The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said on Wednesday the time has come to lift a ban on contacts with his movement. "For the past three years, they have been trying to get rid of Hamas ... especially by imposing a blockade," he said. "Now it is time to start to talk to Hamas."
Meshaal called for a lifting of Israel's blockade in the wake of the 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip that ended on Sunday with a truce. "We achieved our aims by forcing the enemy to halt its aggression and to withdraw," he said.
"But two more battles are left to win: to lift the blockade and open the crossing points (with Gaza), especially at Rafah which is our gateway to the world," said Meshaal.
"Gaza has emerged victorious, the resistance has triumphed, with the enemy unable to impose its conditions," he said, urging fighters to stay alert "with their finger on the trigger because the enemy ... will want to avenge itself."
Meshaal said the devastating Gaza conflict had been "the first real war which our people have won." As a result, "Hamas and the resistance have now become an indispensable element" of any solution, he said.
Meshaal accused the Palestinian Authority of having "abandoned the resistance in the face of the Israeli occupation." He called on Palestinians of the West Bank to join forces with Gaza in confronting Israel. The Hamas leader said a reconciliation with Fatah party would have to take place "on the basis of resistance, not on the basis of concessions" to Israel.
Earlier on Wednesday, Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said the diplomatic Quartet would deal with Hamas if the movement accepted a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "The Quartet has always said it is prepared to talk to Hamas provided that Hamas is part of a government that is on terms that are consistent with the two-state solution," Blair said, according to AFP.