Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tony Blair’s tangled web: The Quartet Representative and the peace process

From Journal of Palestine Studies – Winter 2013 

TONY Blair stepped down as British prime minister in 2007 and immediately assumed the position of representative to the Quartet, the international body overseeing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Against the background of mounting criticism at home over his role in the 2003 Iraq War, this profile examines the record of Blair’s activities in the Middle East over the past five years. The picture that emerges is one of rapid self-enrichment through murky consultancies and opaque business deals with Middle East dictators, and an official role (formally dedicated to Palestinian state-building) whose main results appear to be an unhappy Palestinian Authority and the perpetuation of the status quo. 

On 27 June 2007, Tony Blair resigned as Britain’s prime minister after ten years in office. That very same day, he was appointed to the vaguely defined and unsalaried role of representative to the Quartet, the international body comprising the United States, European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and Russia that was established in 2002 to oversee the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Blair had won three elections in a row in the United Kingdom, a record equaled in the modern era only by Margaret Thatcher. But by the time of his departure, his Labour Party was beset by internal divisions and rocked by scandals, and his popularity was waning. Blair’s talent for “media spin” had begun to grate on much of the British electorate, which found it increasingly hard to believe that their prime minister really was the man of principle he claimed to be.[1] Blair could not shake off a public perception both that he had used deception in promoting the case for war against Iraq in 2003 and that, in relation to those same events, his government had subordinated its foreign policy priorities to the goals of the U.S. administration of George W. Bush. 

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