Blair wants Hamas to push democracy, not aggression

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that Islamic Hamas must choose between violence and democracy, following its success in the Palestinian elections.

After discussing the Northern Ireland peace process here with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, Blair acknowledged the strong showing of Hamas in the election.

"Of course, we recognize the mandate for Hamas because the people have spoken in a particular way in the Palestinian Authority," Blair told reporters.

"But I think it is also important for Hamas to understand that there comes a point, and that point is now following that strong showing, where they have to decide between a path of democracy or a path of violence," said Blair.

"The only way we will ever get to a solution that is good for the Palestinian people is based on democracy and peaceful coexistence between the state of Israel and an independent Palestinian state," he said.

Hamas won a large majority in parliamentary elections as Palestinian voters rejected the longtime rule of the Fatah Party, officials from both parties said Thursday, reports the AP.


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