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["More Than One Opinion" programme, presented by Sami Haddad, featuring interviews with Bill Rammell, UK Foreign Office minister of state for North Africa and Middle East affairs, and Dr Sami al-Khiyami, Syrian ambassador to the United Kingdom, in the London studio; and Dr Mustafa al-Barghuthi, PLC member and secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, via satellite from Cairo - Live]
Doha Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel Television in Arabic at 1905 gmt on 13 March carries live a new episode of its weekly "More Than One Opinion" talk show, presented by Sami Haddad in the London studio.
At the outset of this episode, Haddad says: "Is Britain's decision to open channels of communication with the political wing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, which Israel denounced, considered a liberation from the heritage of former President Bush, who dragged London with it in the raids of Afghanistan and Iraq and in branding resistance movements in the Middle East with terrorism? Is the British step a late response to a parliamentary report, which was issued in 2007 and called on the government to open dialogue, not only with Hezbollah, but also with the moderates in the Hamas Movement? If London's pretext on opening channels of communication with Hezbollah is because it is present in a national unity government, or as the British ambassador in Beirut said to the effect that the party has political power and weight in Lebanon, then why does this explanation not apply to the Palestinian resistance movements, particularly Hamas, which has a weight and enjoys a majority at the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC]? What is the secret behind this British hesitation, which reminds us of Prince Hamlet's undecided and hesitant character, as Shakespeare portrayed it?"
Haddad adds: "Was the British hesitation to deal with the national unity government, which was formed following the Mecca agreement in 2007, counterproductive, according to a British parliamentary report? In light of the Palestinian dialogue in Cairo, will London now deal with a Palestinian national unity government, which includes members, though from the second echelon in the Hamas Movement? On the other hand, will it insist that the latter should accept the Quartet's conditions; renouncing violence, recognizing Israel, and honouring the PLO's previous agreements with Israel? Some European capitals now began to disregard these conditions. They believe that Hamas's acceptance of the Arab peace initiative is perhaps a way out for the movement's refusal to recognize Israel."
To discuss this issue, Haddad hosts Bill Rammell, UK Foreign Office minister of state for North Africa and Middle East affairs, and Dr Sami al-Khiyami, Syrian ambassador to the United Kingdom, in the London studio; and Dr Mustafa al-Barghuthi, PLC member, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, and "minister of information in the national unity government, which did not last long," via satellite from Cairo.
Haddad begins with Rammell and asks him whether the opening of British channels with Hezbollah "is a correction, as The Herald Tribune newspaper said this week, of [former] Prime Minister Tony Blair's positions" and his support for President Bush. He also asks him whether Britain's position on the war on Lebanon in 2006 "created a split within the British Government."
Answering this question, Rammell, [speaking in English with voiceover translation into Arabic, and translated from Arabic] says: "We have made this decision on Hezbollah because it is the right decision under the current circumstances. There has been progress since the agreement in Doha last year. There is also a national reconciliation government in Lebanon. There is reconciliation in Lebanon and there is an ongoing process now. Hezbollah is a part of this process. There is also a plan to hold parliamentary elections. I believe that under such circumstances it would be appropriate to test the situation. We are doing this with deputies and politicians."
Rammell adds: "We are engaging in a discussion and I believe that this is the right thing to do under such …