Tuesday

2nd Jun 2020

Blair set to be named Middle East mediator

Russia has signalled reluctance to appoint Tony Blair, the outgoing British prime minister, as the new international Middle East envoy but the formal announcement of a positive decision is widely expected today.

The Quartet group on the Middle East - representing the EU, US, Russia and UN - met in Jerusalem on Tuesday (26 June) but failed to directly confirm the appointment, as the Russian envoy had to consult Moscow first.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Tony Blair: moving out from Downing Street and set to travel to Jerusalem on regular basis (Photo: European Commission)

Apart from the name, the mandate of the envoy was also debated in the Jerusalem meeting, various sources reported.

The EU's representative at the talks, Marc Otte, highlighted the task of institution building. "If there is going to be a Palestinian state it is very important to build the capacity of the institutions for this state to be a viable one," he said.

Mr Otte added that the mandate could be later expanded. The issue of the job description is crucial - the previous Quartet man in the Middle East, former World Bank president James Wolfensohn often expressed frustration over the limitations in his role.

He stepped down in April 2006 while criticizing the international community for its decision to cut humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas - on the EU and US terrorist list - was voted into power in January.

Commenting on Mr Blair's potential appointment, Mr Wolfensohn said he is "an excellent choice and I hope his great experience will bring a new dynamic to the negotiations," adding that he should focus on promoting economic development in the Palestinian areas as "a foundation for lasting peace," Bloomberg reports.

In the region, Mr Blair has the "full" support of Israel, the country's prime minister Ehud Olmert informed him in a telephone conversation, his office stated.

Diplomats also suggested the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas would support the outgoing British leader as the Quartet envoy.

But Hamas group spokesman Fawzi Barhmoum commented that Mr Blair would not be welcome as he had supported "the Zionist occupation's terrorism and massacres against our people."

Asked by journalists about his nomination, Mr Blair said on Tuesday "I think anybody who cares about greater peace and stability in the world knows that a lasting and enduring resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is essential and, as I have said on many occasions, I would do whatever I could to help such a resolution come about."

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

Opinion

Is Russia manipulating food supplies during pandemic?

Russia already dominates global oil – letting them dominate global food during a pandemic would spell disaster for the EU. It would effectively mean the EU, not just depending on Russian energy, but increasingly also on Russian food supply.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us