Israeli newspaper Yade’out Ahrenout said this morning that former Quartet Committee envoy and former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is leading the negotiations between Israel and Hamas with the aim of knowing the fate of the two Israeli detainees who were arrested by Hamas in Gaza 10 months ago.
The newspaper quoted Russian newspaper Spotinic’s report saying that Blair was currently the first and only mediator between Hamas and Israel in their negotiations to gain knowledge on the state and whereabouts of the two Israeli citizens.
According to Spotinic’s report, Blair’s focus is firstly on understanding the fate of Ephrahem Mengistu and the second detainee, a Bedouin man. It pointed out that Blair had officially met with the Hamas leadership in order to discuss this issue and to attempt to make a first step towards a solution.
Sources in Hamas denied reports that Germany was one of the mediators in the negotiations.
It should be noted that Tony Blair met at least two times recently with Hamas leader Khaled Mesha’al in Qatar’s capital city, Doha.
Hamas has denied holding the two Israeli men, saying that the movement had released them into Israel after the discovery that the two citizens were not soldiers. Israel rejected this statement and said that all indications lead to the conclusion that at least Mengistu was still in Hamas’ custody.
UPDATE: An Israeli official has stated that Israel will not take part in any negotiations with Hamas, according to Haaretz newspaper.