The Middle East envoy Tony Blair finally let go of his role on the day the FIFA crisis blew, the 27th of May. Normally PR experts look to sue bad news on a day when it can be buried under other more prominent news. But his resignation was such good news for Palestinains it is a pity it was almost hurried. This is of course not the view you will get from Israeli leaders for whom Blair was a good send. Over the years not only have the Palestinians faced a pro Israeli ‘peace broker’ in the USA, They also faced pro Israeli Bliar.
The Middle East Quartet is made up of the USA, the EU, the UN and Russia. Their envoy, Bliar spent eight years supposedly bringing peace between Palestinians and Israel nearer but you’d have to be very creative to point to any contribution to peace, certainly not for Palestinains.
Under his watch, the siege on Gaza has been tightened, Gaza faced three destructive attacks by Israel, settlements have expanded to now housing some 650,000 illegal Jewish settlers. House demolitions have continued, Israel continued to build the Apartheid Wall, the number of Palestinain prisoners is almost at the same level as it was when he started in his role and settler terrorism has escalated. If Mr Blair was on performance related pay he would not have had any bonus over the last eight years. Indeed he would have been eased out of the role for failure to deliver.
It is true to say that this was not a paid role but numerous trips to the region, an initial suite at the famous American Colony Hotel in the early days and lots of good food and wine provided reasonable compensation. But as has been reported, the exposure this gave him and of course his Prime Miniserial experience have enabled hism to make millions rom his consultancy work. His company, Tony Blair Associates describes its services as
“the umbrella organisation for our commercial operations.
We work with governments on the path of reform providing advice and support on key areas of governance, modernisation and implementation.
We provide geopolitical and strategic advice to multinational corporations.
We bring together institutional investors with potential investment opportunities.
Tony Blair’s commercial activities provide important funding for his philanthropic work.”
And confirms this activity as “entirely separate from the Foundations which are independent charitable entities accountable to their own boards and trustees and subject to applicable charity regulations”.
Googling ‘Tony Blair Associates’ is an eye opener. How he has found time to do any work as the Quartet Envoy is a mystery. In 2011 he was declared persona non grata by Palestinains for His perceived Israel bias and he has hardly engaged with them since.
When war broke out last summer between Israel and Hamas. He was nowhere to be seen. When interviewed by YNet last July he was asked what he was doing and his answer was “I am doing what I can” and that he operated “under the radar”. It seems again he did not contribute at a critical time to reducing tensions or to saving lives.
When news of his possible resignation surfaced a few weeks ago it was suggested that he was looking for a change of role rather than to resign. A bit like a retiring football manager who is elevated to the Board. But in that type of scenario, the manager would have made a huge contribution to the club and is adored by the fans. Blair has at best made little contribution and will not be missed by the stakeholders.
Palestinians have already expressed their quiet satisfaction at his resignation. They can hardly do worse. His resignation provides an opportunity to reconsider the whole peace process charade and the role of the Quartet. It would not be missed as has been evident from its existence but lack of influence over the past years.
The Europeans seem to be anxious to play a ,evading role in a revitalised peace process but they have already encountered a new manoeuvre by the wriggly Netanyahu. In an attempt to present himself as ‘flexible’, he has offered to start negotiations about the borders of the settlement blocks, which he claims Israel will annex in any peace deal. The Palestinains have rejected this, at least for now. Pressure will grow on them to play a.ong but they should red card him as FIFA should red card the Israeli Football Association.
Good bye Tony and forgive me for not wishing you any luck for the future.Quite honestly, you are doing very well without it.