March 5, 2017
In Blog News
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly met recently with senior members of the Trump administration to discuss with them his potential involvement in Washington’s push for Middle East peace.
A spokesman for Blair denied a report, which first appeared in the Daily Mail, that Blair offered to become U.S. President Donald Trump‘s special envoy to the peace process. Blair held a similar position from 2007 to 2016 on behalf of the Middle East Quartet, an international body which includes representatives from the U.S., the UN, the EU and Russia.
Haaretz could not independently confirm whether Blair in fact made such a proposal, but learned from three different people that Blair had visited Washington in recent days, and that the Middle East was high on his agenda.
“He is optimistic about Trump’s chances to get something done on this front,” said one person with knowledge of the matter. “He likes the idea of a regional process involving Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab countries.”
Blair was involved in attempts to promote a “regional approach” to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking both during his tenure as prime minister, when he pushed American President George W. Bush to take a more active role on the issue, and later during his work for the Quartet.
Haaretz revealed on Sunday morning that Blair was also involved in an attempt to create a unity government in Israel just last year, as part of a regional move to re-start the peace process.
While Blair’s spokesman denied on Saturday that he had offered to work for Trump, he did not deny that the former prime minister had met with senior advisers to the president. The Daily Mail report specifically mentioned multiple meetings with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom the president has indicated would lead the effort to bring peace to the Middle East.
Any involvement by Blair would mean that Trump’s peace-making policy would resemble that of previous U.S. administrations: Blair is a strong supporter of the two-state solution and has been critical of Israeli settlement activity. He supports a regional approach on the basis that an agreement that also includes leading Arab countries would create more benefits for Israel in return for any concessions.