Sunday, July 16, 2006

Blair shows support for Israel

PM Blair defends Israel, blames Syria and Iran for supporting Hezbollah. (BBC Politics Show)

JON SOPEL: Do you think Israel is using excessive force, as the Russians clearly think?

TONY BLAIR: You see I think - we've got to understand how this began with Israel, it began by Israeli soldiers being killed, some of the soldiers being kidnapped, rockets being fired from the Lebanon by Hizbollah, in to Israel, and though this is a difficult thing to say, I think it has to be said, I don't think anybody really believes that this is just about Hizbollah and Israel. We are very worried about the influence of both Syria and Iran in respect of this and the, the only way we are going to get a calming down, a cease fire, restraint shown on all sides is if we deal with the underlying conditions, which are the reason why this conflict between Israel and Hizbollah has come about.

JON SOPEL: Is there any sign of anything calming down yet?

TONY BLAIR: No, because I think it's extremely difficult, erm, obviously Israel feels itself under attack from Hizbollah, and then of course Israel retaliates and then of course the Lebanese situation becomes a lot more difficult and Lebanese democracy is, is fragile but important to, to support and sustain. But the only way we're going to get anything done in this situation, both in respect of what's happening in the Gaza and in respect of the Lebanon, is if we deal with the underlying causes that are giving rise to that. And that means one, that we sort out the situation between Israel and Palestine, when you can get back in to negotiating a two-state solution, within the dependent Palestinian state and secure Israel, and then secondly, that we remove the influence of Hizbollah to disrupt both the prospects in the Lebanon and the prospects in the wider region. Hizbollah, I'm afraid, encouraged and supported both by Syrian and Iran.

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