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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source:
28 January 2006



STRAW INTERVIEWED BY TODAY ON IRAN AND PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS (28/01/06)

EDITED TRANSCRIPT: FOREIGN SECRETARY JACK STRAW BEING INTERVIEWED ON BBC RADIO 4'S TODAY PROGRAMME - SATURDAY 28 JANUARY 2006

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INTERVIEWER:
To what extent is this whole argument complicated by what happened in the Palestinian elections and the fall out from that with respect to Israel?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:

I don’t think it’s directly complicated by that. Of course it’s the case that Iran actively supports the Hizbollah Shia group in the Lebanon and also active in Israel, and helps to fund Hamas, but it’s not directly related. That’s a separate issue because it’s in everybody’s interests that we try and produce a greater degree of stability across the wider Middle East, in the occupied territories and in Iran.

INTERVIEWER:

And that now involves dealing with a government which is composed of a group which is designated by the British government, as by the Americans and many others, as a terrorist one?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:

Yep. The government has yet to be formed. What we are saying is this: Number one, we, as democrats respect the decisions of the electorates. But, those who win elections have very clear responsibilities to those electorates and to the principles of democracy. Number one is violence, terrorism and democracy are wholly incompatible. You cannot interchangeably use the bullet and the ballot. Number two in this particular context, a government in the Palestinian administration has to have dealings with Israel, and that means recognising that Israel exists and has a right to exist. So, what we’re going to be doing is meeting on Monday in the European Union amongst foreign ministers to decide our approach. But the onus is on Hamas, not on us, as to how they respond to international concerns and to the principles of democracy on which they say they were elected.

INTERVIEWER:

But if you look at a situation, not directly comparable but analogous to a degree in Northern Ireland, where an armed group went through a process lasting - what, probably about 15 years before we got that IRA declaration? – playing it both ways, some bullets, some ballots. These things are slow. You know that Hamas is not going to wake up tomorrow morning and tear up everything it said in the last ten years. Yet, it may be willing to move towards some kind of talks with Israel. Isn’t it inevitable that you’re going to have to include them in some political process even before they’ve renounced everything they’ve said in the past?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:

Well, I understand the analogy. It’s not an entirely sound one, because…

INTERVIEWER:

I don’t want to make it too precise…

FOREIGN SECRETARY:

No..

INTERVIEWER:

…but there is a point in common.

FOREIGN SECRETARY:

Well, there is a point in common, but there’s also this fundamental difference, which is that the IRA was never a government and governments have very very significant responsibilities. There is a big difference. Of course I understand that you can’t expect any organisation just overnight to say that it no longer stands for all the things it stood for the day before, but Hamas made a political decision to get involved in democracy and that involves certain consequences. And they now have to recognise those consequences, and they also have to give the world a very clear indication of the direction of travel in which they are moving. I mean, that’s absolutely fundamental and that’s why we’re putting them on notice to make these choices.

INTERVIEWER:

Foreign secretary, thanks very much.


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