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Blair in Middle East

by: - Last updated: 2007-07-23

Tony Blair

Tony Blair

Tony Blair, the international Quartet’s new envoy to the Middle East, is in Israel today to meet with local and Palestinian officials.

Hamas has expressed its willingness to meet with the former British Prime Minister. A spokesman for the Islamist movement told The Sunday Times "we will not say no to anybody, including Tony Blair. We are willing to have contact with whoever, as long as it’s not the occupier (Israel)," said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

The statement came as somewhat of a surprise, as Hamas was outraged by Blair’s appointment as the envoy for the Quartet - the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia - and said he was bound to fail.

During his visit Blair is expected to meet with the UK’s ambassador to Israel, Tom Phillips, as well as with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Labor head and Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blair is also scheduled to meet in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

The envoy will apparently not meet with representatives from Hamas, as the Quartet is looking to isolate the organization, particularly after its recent violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.
However, a number of leading political figures, including former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the current foreign ministers of Spain, France and Italy are urging Blair to hold discussions with members of Hamas.

Reproduced with permission: Ynet