Former British prime minister Tony Blair launched a new campaign for a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians in Jerusalem on Friday.Apparently, Mahmoud Abbas is certainly more forthcoming - in rejecting Tony Blair.
Blair, who was an envoy for the Middle East peacemaking Quartet, said he was now acting as a private citizen to push for a negotiated settlement.
"What I will do both here and throughout the region is work through this Initiative for the Middle East, as I call it, to try and push and promote...a political process in the framework of the Arab peace initiative, major change on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, and Palestinian unity on the basis of peace," he said.
Blair said his new role allowed him added freedom to hold frank discussions with all sides.
Israeli media reports in recent weeks have suggested Blair has been meeting with the leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, but Blair refused to publicly confirm such talks.
"I am not going to comment on those other than to say that what I have found since leaving the Quartet role is it has been easier to have conversations of complete frankness with people," he said.
"Since I have the relationships people may be prepared to be more forthcoming than when they think you are representing (the Quartet)," he said.
Rai al Youm reports that Abbas rejected a request by Blair, more than once, to meet him either in Ramallah or on the sidelines of Abbas'foreign visits.
A senior Palestinian official said that Blair is "now an employee of Israeli policies."
Here's the photo accompanying this story on the pro-Fatah Palestine Press Agency:
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