Blair wife apologises for remarks sympathizing with Palestinian suicide bombers

Published June 18th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

The British PM's wife, Cherie Blair has apologised for remarks she made Tuesday about Palestinian suicide bombers.  

 

Appearing at the launch of a charity appeal for Medical Aid for Palestinians, Blair said that "as long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress". She made these comments just after a suicide bomber blew himself up on an Israeli bus in southern Jerusalem, killing 19 people.  

 

Later in the day, Mrs. Blair issued a statement saying: "If any offence has been taken from this interpretation from Mrs Blair then obviously she is sorry. No offence was intended. It goes without saying she condemns this atrocity today in the strongest possible terms. She does not condone suicide bombers." 

 

Mrs. Blair and Queen Rania of Jordan were visiting the charity's offices in Islington, north London when she made the remarks.  

 

For her part, Queen Rania said: "Today's events are a clear reminder that both sides of the conflict are suffering. It is also clear that the suffering cannot continue."  

 

She called for a political solution to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas and for security for Israelis.  

 

"Delaying the political peace process inevitably exposes more innocent civilians on both sides to grave danger," she said 

 

Prime Minister Blair had immediately leapt to his wife's defense once the comments were made public. He said later that terrorism offered "absolutely no future".  

 

"We need to make sure that there is hope for the future and the hope lies in the political process taking the place of the extremists, the terrorists and the suicide bombers," he declared. 

 

"And I am sure that is what Cherie was saying, as everyone who has looked at this problem knows is the case." 

 

The Prime Ministry spokeswoman said Mrs. Blair was "not seeking to justify the actions of Palestinian suicide bombers in any way".  

 

But Conservatives described the comments as "most unfortunate words". They would "cause massive offence to the families of schoolchildren and others whose lives were brutally and criminally ended".  

 

The Israeli embassy in London said it regretted that "any public statements, which might be interpreted as expressing understanding for Palestinian terrorism, should be made, particularly on a day on which 19 innocent Israeli lives were taken by a suicide bomber from Hamas." (Albawaba.com) 

 

© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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