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Friday, June 29, 2007

Advice for Tony Blair: Tell the truth! Blair calls Hamas

As I'm sure you all know already, shortly after he resigned as Prime Minister of England on Wednesday, Tony Blair was appointed the 'quartet's Middle East peace envoy. The Washington Post posed the following question for discussion in light of Blair's appointment:
What's the first thing Tony Blair should do if he wants to make progress as the Quartet's Mideast peace envoy? ("Quit" is not an acceptable answer.)
And the Jerusalem Post's Saul Singer gave a spot-on answer: Tell the truth.

For decades, the process has been implicitly built on a simple syllogism: peace requires a Palestinian state, Israel objects to such a state, therefore lean on Israel. Many things have changed since this formulation was devised, but the underlying strategy hasn't.

Israel set a Palestinian state in motion at Oslo (1993), offered one to Yasser Arafat at Camp David (2000), and unilaterally created one in Gaza (2005). Yet the more Israel embraced Palestinian statehood, including even the right-wing icon Ariel Sharon, the more violent and radicalized the Palestinians have become.

In a major address during last summer's war in Lebanon, Blair hit on the real obstacle to peace. He said that Hezbollah was not fighting "for the coming into being of a Palestinian state, but for the going out of being of an Israeli state."

The struggle for peace is no longer between Israelis and Palestinians. It is between the jihadi axis (Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Syria and Iran) that wants to block a Palestinian state at all costs; and the West, moderate Arabs and Israel, who want to resolve the Palestinian problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Palestinians are much too weak and radicalized to shift themselves over to the peace camp. What they need is a serious push by "moderate" Arab states. These states, such as Saudi Arabia, claim they are for peace, but continue to demonize Israel at the UN, foment anti-Semitism, and boycott Israel instead leading the way with normalization and direct talks.

If Saudi King Abdullah, let alone Syrian President Assad, really wants peace with Israel, why is it unthinkable for them to meet with an Israeli leader, either in Jerusalem or in their own capitals? Why don't they start settling Palestinian refugees instead of staying silent while even Mahmoud Abbas promises they will "return" to Israel,¬ which is code for Israel's destruction?

Update 11:44 PM (Boston time)

DEBKA is reporting that unfortunately, Tony Blair is taking a very different route than what Saul Singer suggests: He is renewing contacts with Hamas.
Shortly after the former British prime minister stepped into his new job, he assured Russia and the Europeans that he did not mean to adhere to the US-Israeli boycott of Hamas. One of his first tasks would be to establish ties with Hamas representatives in Gaza and Damascus.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that the British politician conveyed this intention in a telephone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin Tuesday, June 26. This assurance persuaded Moscow to drop its resistance to naming him envoy. Those sources affirm that Blair’s sudden turnaround contradicts the understandings he reached with US president George W. Bush and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on his leave-taking visit earlier this month.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is also looking askance at the new Blair strategy. Thursday, June 28, she commented: “Tony Blair’s mandate as new Middle East envoy would be limited and he would report to the international Quartet, not the other way round.”
'Peace' in our time. Feh!


At 11:33 AM, Blogger LEL said...

You've been tagged


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