Jerusalem, Sept 19: Palestinian leaders have expressed outrage over former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for allegedly ‘sounding like an Israeli diplomat’ while attempting to derail their bid for statehood at the UN.
The Obama administration had asked Blair, in his capacity as Middle East envoy, to lead an initiative to persuade the Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel instead of going to the UN to seek membership of the world body, a move bitterly opposed by Israel.
Officials in the West Bank city of Ramallah said the proposal that Blair presented, drafted with the assistance of senior US officials, failed to recognise Palestinian grievances.
His initiative allegedly dropped previous US calls for Israel to halt settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land, while demanding that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said Blair’s efforts had convinced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he had no choice but to go ahead with his UN bid and abandon all thoughts of a compromise.
“I gulped. This was the statement that was supposed to persuade President Abbas not to go? Blair doesn’t sound like a neutral interlocutor. He sounds like an Israeli diplomat sometimes,” The Telegraph quoted Shaath, as saying.
Palestinian officials claimed that Blair had abandoned all pretence of neutrality in the hope of persuading the Obama administration to give him more authority in his role as special envoy for the Quartet on Middle East peace, which comprises the US, the UN, the EU and Russia. (ANI)