Palestinian leaders are calling for Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister, to resign his post as the international community’s envoy to the Middle East.
Top officials in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the umbrella group that includes most Palestinian factions, charge that Mr Blair – who represents the so-called Mideast Quartet that includes the US, UN, European Union and Russia – prefers to look out for Israel’s interests rather than acting as an honest broker.It is now official:
Mohammad Ishtayeh, a top member of Fatah, which dominates the PLO, and a confidant of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in an interview: “I call on him to resign. There is a consensus among the Palestinian leadership that people are dissatisfied with his performance.”
Mr Ishtayeh added that Palestinian leaders plan to convey to the Quartet their demand to have Mr Blair removed from his post. “We will ask the Quartet in our own way. There are open channels between us and the Quartet.” According to Mr Ishtayeh, Mr Blair has “been useless” to the Palestinians as Quartet envoy.
The debate over whether to make a formal request to the Quartet was conducted last week during separate meetings of the PLO’s executive committee and the central committee of Fatah.
During the PLO meeting, some faction representatives called for a boycott of Mr Blair, according to Mr Ishtayeh.
The Department of International Relations of the PLO confirmed that the representative of the Quartet, Tony Blair, is not welcome as a representative of the Committee for the peace process as he is no longer neutral and has become clearly biased to Israel and its demands .
The department added that Blair went beyond his duties assigned by the Commission as a neutral intermediary and became a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which was evident in his attempt to formulate a statement of the international Quartet to adopt the Israeli demands only at the expense of the demands and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
The department said that Blair has broken with diplomatic norms required in such sensitive positions.