Palestinians should have a state as a right: Blair

Jerusalem, June 19 (IANS) Palestinians "should have a state, not as a reward for good behaviour but as a right", Tony Blair, the official envoy of the Middle East Quartet, said Wednesday.

Blair cautioned Israeli leaders that the "window of opportunity" for peace with the Palestinians might close shortly, Xinhua reported.

"Some say the two-state solution is a fantasy. The fantasy is thinking one-state is sustainable or consistent with Israeli values," Blair said at the Fifth Presidential Conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The three-day conference is being attended by about 5,000 local and international leaders, thinkers and artists.

Blair warned that the two-state solution has a short window of opportunity that "could close, maybe forever".

He said the Palestinians "should have a state, not as a reward for a good behaviour but as a right".

The US and the European Union have been trying for a long time to coerce Israel to accept the idea of a two-state solution, which means Israel should withdraw from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip it occupied in the 1967 Mideast War.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his willingness to resume talks immediately and accept the two-state solution, Israel's Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett said the two-state solution had reached a "dead end".

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians came to a halt in 2010 over Israel's continuing construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to build their own state.

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