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Blair raises concerns over Gaza blockade

By Phil Han, CNN
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Tony Blair on flotilla crisis
  • Tony Blair supports "prompt, impartial" investigation.
  • Blair voiced concern over doing "things the wrong way around."
  • Former PM is against the idea of a blockade of Gaza.
  • Blair, is an envoy to the Middle East on behalf of Quartet

(CNN) -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed concern over Israel's policy towards Gaza following Monday's commando raid on an international flotilla carrying aid to the blockaded Palestinian territory.

Blair, an envoy for the Middle East Quartet -- the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- working toward peace in the region, said Israel's blockade of the region since 2007 wasn't working.

"At the moment the difficulty with the current policy, apart from the events from the last few days is that we're not helping the people and isolating the extremists," Blair told CNN. "We're in danger of doing it the wrong way round."

Blair also backed the U.N. Security Council's call for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent" investigation into the raid which led to the deaths of at least nine people.

"I think the important thing is people want to know the facts," he told CNN. "So there's got to be a proper investigation. I think Hillary Clinton set out the criteria very well and very sensibly earlier and we've got to get that under way."

Blair, who has publicly stated that he opposes the economic blockade of Gaza, said that one of the main issues facing the Palestinian territory was a lack of proper access.

"I've been saying that for the best part of two years that this (the blockade) is a policy that doesn't work," Blair said.

"At the present time it's very hard to get materials into Gaza. We need to get not just humanitarian materials but materials that can rebuild the infrastructure."

Blair said that while "illegitimate" business interests were using tunnels to get goods into the territory, "what we're not doing is allowing the sector that is legitimate, the proper business sector, to conduct its business and of course this is what we've got to change."

Blair also praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his government's involvement in the region.

"Well, the most important thing for the Americans is that President Obama's gripped this from the very beginning of his time as president; I mean, that's the single most important thing," Blair said.

"The important thing for America is that they continue to be engaged in this."