Tony Blair becomes the Quartet's envoy to the Middle East

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Image: Jens Olaf.

On the same day that Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and quit as a Member of Parliament, he was appointed envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet on the Middle East. The Quartet is made up of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

The Quartet outlined Blair's duties in a statement:

As Quartet Representative, he will:
  • mobilise international assistance to the Palestinians, working closely with donors and existing coordination bodies
  • help to identify, and secure appropriate international support in addressing the institutional governance needs of the Palestinian state, focusing as a matter of urgency on the rule of law
  • develop plans to promote Palestinian economic development, including private sector partnerships, building on previously agreed frameworks, especially concerning access and movement
  • and liaise with other countries as appropriate in support of the agreed Quartet objectives

Tony Blair said, in his final address to Parliament on Wednesday, that "The absolute priority is to try to give effect to what is now the consensus across the international community — that the only way of bringing stability and peace to the Middle East is a two-state solution," Blair continued, "I believe it is possible to do that but it will require a huge intensity of focus and work."

According to the Quartet statement, "Tony Blair will be supported in this work by a small team of experts, based in Jerusalem." Also, he will "report to and consult regularly with the Quartet and be guided by it as necessary."

Reactions

A statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that as envoy, Blair could "allow for progress in the peace process."

An aide to the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters that Abbas "hopes [Blair] can help relieve the suffering of our people and provide basic needs".

The Hamas organization who are the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip said the appointment of Blair "was not helpful in solving the conflict in the Middle East."

Ian Paisley, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, credited Blair's efforts in that nation, saying: "I hope that what happened in Northern Ireland will be repeated and at the end of the day he will be able to look back and say it was well worthwhile."


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