It's Official: Blair To Head Up Peace Effort In Middle East; Will Move To Jerusalem; Why Is Blair Different Than All Others Who Have Failed?

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June 27, 2007

Britain's Blair gets Middle East envoy post

Tony Blair will be moving to Jerusalem to become the Quartet's special peace envoy to the Middle East

With a potential second office in the West Bank, and will be assisted by a team of experts

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Comments
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was officially announced as the new Middle East peace envoy today.  He will be taking over a position that has in the past bewildered and frustrated many accomplished world politicians.  But many believe that Blair may be up to the task since he is one of the few politicians who has a good relationship with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

This is what Associated Press writer Mark Lavie had to say about Blair:

"Blair's appointment is the latest step in a burst of diplomacy following the seizure of the Gaza Strip by the Islamic militants of Hamas, adding a high-profile world leader to efforts to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and restart Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

Brokering peace in Northern Ireland ending decades of violence that claimed more than 3,500 lives_ is counted as one of Blair's most significant diplomatic achievements. He has also pressed for agreements on climate change and combating poverty in Africa.

The personable Blair is viewed as a masterful communicator, an attribute both praised and pilloried, with some critics suggesting he is style over substance. But he has the knack for knowing what to say: When Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash, he stepped before TV cameras and dubbed her the "People's Princess," capturing the mood of a mournful Britain.

Blair's new job will deal primarily with helping the Palestinian Authority build political institutions. It won't, at least at first, involve direct mediation or negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis, the senior U.S. official said."  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070627/ap_on_re_mi_ea/mideast_blair_6;_ylt=ApqkiTsnJdRnwAuLlmTN9LqbOrgF

Even though Mr. Blair's job at first will mainly deal with building political institutions for the Palestinian Authority look for his responsibilities to broad dramatically in the very near future.

How does Israel feel about Mr. Blair's appointment:

"Israelis see him as one of the most supportive leaders on the world stage, standing by the Jewish state through years of crises and spasms of violence as other leaders piled on criticism.

While noting that the appointment was not official, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday that "Tony Blair is a very well appreciated figure in Israel."

Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke with Blair on Tuesday evening, calling him "a true friend" of Israel and promising full cooperation if he accepted the job as Quartet envoy, the prime minister's office said in a statement." http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070627/ap_on_re_mi_ea/mideast_blair_6;_ylt=ApqkiTsnJdRnwAuLlmTN9LqbOrgF

This is what the Palestinians had to say about Mr. Blair:

"Many Palestinians, too, consider Blair a friendly world figure despite his close ties to the U.S. and his role in the war in Iraq."

"The British leader has a long history of support for the Palestinian cause, had good relations with the late Yasser Arafat and was one of the first Western leaders to endorse the "two-state solution," a Palestinian state living in peace next to Israel."

"Fahmi al-Zaarer, a spokesman for Abbas' Fatah movement, said Palestinians would welcome Blair. 'We believe that Mr. Blair's efforts would help ... revive the political process,' he said."

"Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said: 'We hope this appointment will speed efforts to resume the political process to achieve the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.'" http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070627/ap_on_re_mi_ea/mideast_blair_6;_ylt=ApqkiTsnJdRnwAuLlmTN9LqbOrgF

Although Blair has his supporters some believe that he will eventually quit in frustration.  "Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher said he expects little from the Blair appointment. 'There is no peace process, and there isn't likely to be a peace process in the near future for Blair to work on,' Alpher said. 'I predict that he will quit in frustration in a year and a half.'"  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070627/ap_on_re_mi_ea/mideast_blair_6;_ylt=ApqkiTsnJdRnwAuLlmTN9LqbOrgF

Mr. Alpher may be correct.  Name recognition and high profile does not necessarily equal success.  The last two high profile president's Bill Clinton and George W. Bush tried to bring peace to the region with little to no success.  Why would Mr. Blair be any different?

That's a fair question and only time will tell.  But no man can succeed in and of themselves.  It will have to be the will of God for anyone to go forward with peace in the Middle East.  The real question is... is this God's timing?

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Terry Malone