I don’t know about you, but I never heard this half of the story.
Blair stepped down yesterday after 10 years in the ‘front office’ of Britain. But lest you think he is retiring to some tropical island to sip Coronas, he is actually going to be neck-deep in Mideast politics. By jove, the Brits are back in “Palestine”! —mary
by Stan Goodenough
Jun 29, 2007
After 25 years in British politics, 13 years at the head of the Labor Party and 10 years as the head of government, Tony Blair bowed out as prime minister and Member of Parliament Wednesday and stepped into his new post as special envoy to the Middle East.
Contrary to many expectations, his job will not be to try and come up with ways to restart the quagmired “Road Map” peace plan, according to reports.
Instead, he will focus on finding a fast track to establishing an Arab state called Palestine on the Arab-occupied Jewish lands of Samaria, Judea and Gaza.
Blair, who counts as probably his greatest achievement as prime minister his success at brokering the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, is on record as saying he believes resolving the “Palestinian”-Israeli conflict is key to bringing peace to the entire Middle East.
Speaking earlier this week in response to speculation that he would be offered the envoy’s post, he said he would do “whatever I can to help bring about a solution.”
His appointment was confirmed by the so-called Quartet of powers – the US, EU, UN and Russia – Wednesday as he was on his way to Buckingham Palace to relinquish his premiership in a day of intense activity beamed to millions of television viewers around the world.
Blair didn’t waste a minute getting started. Barely had he departed the palace as plain Mr. Tony Blair, citizen, than he began work, announcing in a newspaper interview published Thursday that he will make his first trip to Israel and the “Palestinian territories” possibly as early as next month.
Before the sun had set on his first day out of office, Blair had been on the phone to King Abd’allah of Saudi Arabia, King Abd’allah of Jordan, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
All had reportedly welcomed him to his new post and said they looked forward to working with him.
Blair will reportedly be based out of an office in Jerusalem – though he does not recognize the city as Israel’s capital. He will be working with a small team and will be expected to regularly report on his progress to the Quartet.
According to a Quartet statement read out by a United Nations spokeswoman, “The urgency of recent events has reinforced the need for the international community, bearing in mind the obligations of the parties, to help Palestinians as they build the institutions and economy of a viable state in Gaza and the West Bank, able to take its place as a peaceful and prosperous partner to Israel and its other neighbors…
Blair would “spend significant time in the region working with the parties and others to help create viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians, a robust economy, and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people,” the statement continued.
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