gulfnews.com, By Manal Alafrangi, Staff Writer, July 03, 2007
Some say it's a full circle: The British were the main players in facilitating the creation of the Jewish state and now, nearly 60 years later, it is a British former prime minister who will try to facilitate the "creation" of a Palestinian state.
But there's a catch; this Palestinian state will be created on less than 22 per cent of historical Palestine.
Moreover, Palestinians as always are expected to make major concessions (Jewish colonies on Palestinian land, carving up of Palestinian land due to the building of the separation wall, questionable control over East Jerusalem, and Israel's insistence on maintaining supervision on their land) in order for a peaceful resolution to come about.
But back to Tony Blair. The man has almost single-handedly (along with the US President George W. Bush) caused more damage to Anglo-Arab relations than any previous prime minister. It is actually incomprehensible to understand how a man, who has proven himself to be untrustworthy, can be viewed as a neutral arbitrator.
After all, he provided his people and the world false assurances on the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq thus pushing his country into a war that was based on lies - irrespective of his public's view.
And his mistakes don't end with Iraq. Blair, along with his faith-obsessed buddy Bush, postponed a ceasefire in Lebanon last year in the hopes that Israel would rise victorious above Hezbollah. This vision of course was carried out at the expense of the innocent Lebanese people.
Blair's name is forever associated with the flawed US policies on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other parts of the Middle East. The ex-prime minister spent an awful lot of time talking about Muslims and Islam, yet he consistently failed to show any real substance behind his talk.
On the other hand, it really makes little difference as to who takes the job of the Middle East envoy because ultimately, it amounts to following the orders of the key players from the Quartet. In that sense, perhaps Blair is the most suited candidate as he has perfected the act of adhering to American ways and standards.
Look at previous Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn, a former World Bank president, leave the job in frustration as "peace" could not be discussed let alone achieved.
Concentrating on Palestinian governance issues, Wolfensohn found the job nearly impossible after he had dealt with the conflict first hand.
There is a certain irony in Blair being assigned to clear up a mess he himself helped to create. British policies towards the Palestinian Israeli conflict have always been subservient to America's ways, which of course were known to be disastrous for the Palestinians.
Anything Bush deemed appropriate the British agreed to. Separate agendas (of Israel, the US and Britain) consistently echoed similar rhetoric.
Anyone up for this particular job needs to separate himself/herself from the US interests and plans but thus far, this has been virtually impossible.
Interestingly, there is always discussion in the media that Blair is a man with good intentions but it's the world of politics that has prevented him from acting on them.
Fair enough; Blair may have good intentions in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but he is limited in his job requirements and descriptions. While he might have the drive and knowledge necessary to make a difference, he still has to report to his patron, the US government.
Remember the "Yo Blair" conversation that took place last year between Bush and Blair? It exposed the subservient nature of Blair's approach to the US president with Bush interrupting Blair almost every time the latter spoke and telling him what to do.
With Blair stuttering and blithering in every sentence, one could grasp the limits of Blair against the US giant.
Logic dictates that the only option available to bring justice and peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through the intervention of the international community. Of course the US and Europe are key players due to the impending influence they can exercise over Israel. Impending is the key word.
Blair's appointment comes at a time of heightened tension in the region. The Quartet (or the US rather) may want a man who can smile and who has an easy charm and a sense of humour, but it is his political stance that will prove decisive.
Will Blair be willing to talk to Hamas who are in control of Gaza and who have sufficient support in the West Bank? Will Blair apply pressure on Israel to stop its building of more colonies and expansion?
Will Blair confront Israel on its building of the "separation wall"? Will Blair discuss the fate of occupied East Jerusalem with Israel? Will Blair dare to discuss the plight of millions of Palestinian refugees?
Logically, the odds seem stacked against it and sadly, it appears Blair is another American puppet with an English accent.
As someone half-jokingly put it to me, "... What next? They might as well appoint the KKK to be in charge of global race relations".