Israel and Hamas at war | Tony Blair denies mentioning displacement of Palestinians from Gaza

(London) Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has firmly denied having held discussions in Israel on a movement of Palestinians from Gaza, as claimed by Israeli television.

According to Israeli media Channel 12, Tony Blair, who left office in 2007 and was subsequently an envoy to the Middle East responsible for establishing Palestinian institutions, was in Israel last week.

He reportedly held meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and war cabinet member Benny Gantz about a mediation role after the war with Hamas, Channel 12 said.

According to this channel, he could also have the role of intermediary with moderate Arab states for a “voluntary resettlement” of the inhabitants of Gaza.

But Tony Blair’s foundation, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, called the claims a “lie”.

They were published “without any contact with Tony Blair or his team”. “No discussion of this type took place,” the organization responded in a statement Monday evening.

“Tony Blair would not have such a discussion because the idea is wrong in principle. Gazans must be able to stay and live in Gaza.”

The Palestinian presidency rejected “any suspicious attempt” to appoint Mr. Blair “or any other person to be responsible for displacing Palestinians from Gaza”, denouncing a “reprehensible act”, in a statement cited by the Palestinian Wafa agency.

“We call on the British government not to allow interference in the fate and future of the Palestinian people,” added the presidency, warning that “Tony Blair is not welcome in the Palestinian Territories.”

On Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for a return of Jewish settlers to the Gaza Strip after the war.

Two far-right Israeli ministers, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, have estimated in recent days that Israel should “encourage” the approximately 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza to leave the territory for other countries.

Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, strongly condemned these comments.

In December, UN chief Antonio Guterres and the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, warned of “attempts” to move Palestinians to ‘Egypt.

The expulsion of a population from its territory is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, which constitute the heart of international humanitarian law.

Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip have left more than 22,000 dead, mostly women, children and adolescents, since the start of the war on October 7, according to the latest report published by Hamas.

They were launched in retaliation for an attack of unprecedented scale carried out by commandos of the Islamist movement which resulted in the death of around 1,140 people in Israel, the majority civilians, according to the latest official Israeli data.

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