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A former Australian prime minister has called opposition to negotiating with Hamas a “major mistake.”

Malcolm Fraser also lashed out at the United States and Israel for playing a “major part” in the factional warfare among Palestinians.

Fraser, the prime minister of a Liberal government from 1975 to 1983, lauded former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s recent decision to meet Hamas chiefs and said peace would not be possible until the rift was healed between Palestinian factions. In an article Friday in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper, Fraser wrote: “It would have been possible to say to Hamas, a number of your policies must change but we welcome your participation in the democratic process, and we are therefore prepared to talk and explore possible areas of agreement. This approach would have given Hamas an alternative to violence and the possibility of a different future. “Failure to talk with an opponent or with an enemy is perhaps the major mistake of the Bush administration — a mistake that has made many parts of the world more dangerous.” Blasting the double standard, Fraser said, “The West claimed to be surprised at Hamas’ victory. It betrayed its own principles by making it plain that democracy was only acceptable if it gave the kind of result that Israel and the U.S. wanted.” Last month Gareth Evans, a former foreign minister for an Australian Labor government in the 1990s, also urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas.

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