In order for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to succeed, a seat at the negotiating table may be needed for the Hamas terrorist group, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has warned.
Welby, on a 10-day tour of the Holy Land, spoke to the Guardian newspaper after visiting Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip. The terrorist group has long called for Israel’s total destruction and rejects the Jewish state’s right to exist as it backs “armed struggle” against it.
Welby said: “In any place where there’s serious conflict, there’s a point where you need to talk to everyone, but it has got to be the point where you can make some progress.”
— Justin Welby ن (@JustinWelby) May 9, 2017
In line with British government policy, Welby and his aides did not meet Hamas officials on their brief visit to Gaza but talks should not be ruled out, Welby said.
Welby did tour the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem, home to some of Judaism’s holiest sites including the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem; the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron; and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus. Welby said:
“There’s a moment, which I’m not saying is now, when it is possible for it to bring rewards. But the moment is not any moment – you can do it at exactly the wrong time and cause a complete meltdown and undermine all the resistance to extremism. And, secondly, the result [can be] the people in the middle become more disempowered, and you end up privileging those who cause the most difficulty, you reward bad behaviour by attention.”
The British government, along with the EU and the U.S., adopted a policy of not talking to Hamas after the faction won Palestinian elections in 2006 and took control of Gaza the following year.
Welby’s latest Mideast intervention follows his call earlier this week for bridges to be built between Christians and Jews to help fight the rising tide of global anti-Semitism, as Breitbart Jerusalem reported.
As for the future of Israel, he noted that, in the past decade or so, “there’s been a total breakdown of the capacity of human beings to live alongside one another. But in the Middle East, it’s happened before and it’s been put right before, and there have been new moments of hope. So that’s our prayer. And that’s what we have to take responsibility for leading.”
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