Andrea Mitchell   |  June 03, 2010

Blair wants ‘common sense’ position on Gaza

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair explains why Israel’s policy against Gaza isn’t sustainable.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> ahead of you. thanks again.

>>> and israel is refusing to accept u.s. calls for independent commission. the state department says warned that the calls were clearly ignored. israel is also facing internal political turmoil. a fight broke out when some members denounced a member for joining the flotilla. tony blair now serves as middle east key negotiator. we sat down with him today and he said israel 's policy toward gaza is not sustainable.

>> i question, especially when feelings are running very, very high, is how did you get to a common sense position on gaza . gaza is run by hamas . hamas is hostile to israel . israel has a right to protection itself against weapons being smuggled into gaza . if israel 's taking security measures, it's got the right to do that, however, the real problem we face at the moment is getting material in for things like the construction of power, electricity, water, oil, sanitation, people rebuilding their homes. doing legitimate business. so, what we need is to distinguish between the measures necessary for security , which i think israel has a right protect its security and the measures that help people who in many cases are against hamas . one thing to live a more normal life .

>> the blockade is three years old. a year ago, it's not sustainable. it can't continue this way, yet the israeli position is that there can be no alteration of a blockade policy. how do you bridge that gap?

>> we know enough about the situation to realize the existing policy is that actually people do bring in through the tunnels that go from egypt underneath the line and into gaza . people do bring in the materials that way, which is an illegitimate way of bringing stuff into gaza . tri i triing trying very hard to get sanitation projects and power projects and house rebuilding projects in gaza find it difficult. sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don't.

>> legitimate materials. and what do you say to israel 's government when it says it will not even accept international participation in an investigation. israeli-led, but as the u.s. is demanding, the white house is demanding there be a credible, international organization or some sort of investigation of this incident. i think what hillary clinton put out in the state department and what the white house , the issue's got to be that it's a proper investigation and that it's impartial.

>> israel has said no to that.

>> i think they've said it's not going to yield up the contact of the investigation to other people. now, this is something that i know the americans talking to the israelis about. they'll have discussions with the turkish government , too. so i hope that can be resolved in a satisfactory way. we have to investigate what has happened because of the tragedy, but the most important thing that i want to concentrate on is how do we move forward from here with the peace process on the west bank and in gaza .

>> the diplomatic fallout is pretty widespread. israel is isolated diplomatically over this and you have turkey now very angry. turkey such a close ally in so many respects. israel 's chief partner in many things in the muslim world , and iran sanctions . could also be jeopardized by this.

>> i hope very much that people keep these issues separate because the issue of iran and nuclear weapons cape tbl is an issue --

>> your bottom line message to israel as to why they should shift their policy on gaza ?

>> because you should help the people, but still be resolute in security . so where there are goods that can come in and help people live better lives -- whether goods coming in to threaten u.s. security , then everyone's on your side, but it's the distinction between protecting your security and helping the people.

>> and the current policy of stopping ships with commando raids.

>> i think that all goes back to the issue of policy and respect to gaza because if we had a policy everyone could get behind where you're saying, we will check everything coming in to make sure there are not weapons, everybody's on israel 's side in respect to that and it's important we understand from their point of view that security remains. on the other hand, however, you've got to be in a position where as i say, if we're trying to get materials into rebuild people's homes, then that's something that should be allowed.

>> in this instance, no matter who was at fault and an investigation eventually will prove that, was the commando raid and use of weapons a mistake?

>> i think if we're going to investigate it, let's investigate it. there will be plenty of people on every side using prete iing pretty strong language. it is a tragic incident. there has been a terrible loss of life which we mourn. but what is important is to keep the process going.

>> finally, you've been in the area. you've seen what's going on in gaza . benjamin netanyahu says there is no humanitarian crisis there.

>> food will come into people in gaza . the people i'm talking to are legitimate business people . may be people trying to do small construction businesses. there are some people in the information technology center. people running hotels. believe it or not, there are hotels in gaza open for business. these people don't just want to have the means of staying alive as it were through food and clothing, they want to run their business, so it all depends. you use these phrases, i mean, the fact is that people in gaza need to be given some hope, some prospect for the future.

>> but there is no sign of that happening anytime soon. tony blair , who met today with netanyahu and defense minister , is also being severely criticized for that commando raid. we'll be back in a moment