The former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is being accused of “parroting” the same demands as Israel is making, de-legitimizing his role as unbiased mediator in the eyes of the leadership in Palestine.
Blair Disappoints Palestinians
One senior Palestinian leader, Nabil Shaath, has stated that Palestinian officials seriously considered whether or not to make a formal request to remove Blair from his position as envoy for the Middle East Quartet. In the end the request was not made, but Palestinians are still not happy with remarks made by the prime minister which they say are too biased in favor of the Israeli position on the issues concerning Israel and Palestine.
“Everyone had reservations about Blair’s performance, but we don’t want to embarrass him anymore,” Shaath said. “If you want to do it, you wait until things have quieted down.”
Blair became envoy for the Quartet after his leaving the office of prime minister in 2007.
Palestinian confidence in Blair as Quartet envoy began to falter last July, when Blair supported the side of the Israelis in a debate which took place within the the Quartet membership over a statement describing a return to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Other members of the Quarter, the EU, US Russia and the UN were not able to come to an agreement on such a statement. The role that Blair played in this debate gave cause for “serious doubt that (Blair) could carry in his duties” in an unbiased way, said Shaath.
When Blair took the role of envoy “we thought he would be a real support to the Palestinians. But he gradually reduced his role to that of asking the Israelis to take down a barrier here or a barrier there… He really escaped all the political requirements of his job as representative of the Quartet,” explained Shaath.