Envoy Blair arrives

FROM what little he has publicly engaged on the issue, it is clear that Blair the envoy is just as verbose as Blair the prime minister. What is more, there is another striking similarity between his mandate now and his vision regarding the Middle East as British PM – little chance of success.



Apparently exercising little authority, he is charged with revitalising the stalled peace process, initiating constructive ‘final status issues’ talks and encouraging ‘reform, economic development and institution-building’ in the Palestinian territories. Considering on-ground realities, it becomes apparent why an overwhelming majority of analysts and stakeholders hold little hope for Blair materialising the above.

As pointed out repeatedly in this space, any final-status talks will ring hollow if Gaza is kept out of the loop. And being elected representatives of the people before armed infighting prompted Mahmoud Abbas to deliver the axe, Hamas still enjoys considerable public and ballot support, therefore needs to be engaged with seriously.

At this juncture, if the West continues to bolster Fatah only and push ahead with its plans with little regard to opinions and aspirations of a large majority of Palestinians, any structure it raises cannot hold for long. Blair should have learned from his participation in the Iraq mess that once done, political damage is very difficult to unknot.

The adopted course, therefore, betrays little desire for concrete progress on the part of the Quartet. And since foreign participation is crucial to ending the Middle East deadlock, it seems that unfortunately, countless Palestinians suffering in refugee camps and elsewhere will have to wait till other dispensations occupy the world’s critical power houses.

For now, the new story will be the same old one. A lot of noise will precede Press conferences and photo-ops, but little to understand, much less end Palestinians’ suffering is likely to come forth. Contrary to what Blair says, optimism is definitely not the only thing he will need in the months ahead.


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