Tony Blair has landed a major diplomatic job as the international Middle East peace envoy, responsible for preparing the Palestinians for negotiations with Israel. His role, to be announced today, will be largely to work with the Palestinians over security, economy and governance.His job is to "prepare" the Palestinians? Further details:
Working from an office in Jerusalem, and possibly another in the West Bank, Mr Blair will become the special representative for the Middle East quartet of UN, EU, US and Russia. The announcement comes on the eve of his departure from Downing Street tomorrow and is privately welcomed by Gordon Brown.
The arrangement, which has been under preparation for weeks, is due to be agreed at a meeting of the quartet today.
It was being stressed last night that Mr Blair's role - in the short term at least - would not be to act as a mediator between the Palestinians and the Israelis, or to become a negotiator for the road map to peace. He might, however, be responsible for trying to persuade the Palestinians to accept the conditions for ending the international boycott of Hamas.I like this conceit in the piece that he would have more success and be in a less antagonistic position with the Bush administration than previous envoys -- such as James Wolfensohn or Alvaro de Soto. Because it would be an illusion that Blair or anyone else would be able to go against the White House, and what it really means is that he sees more eye-to-eye with the Bushies than his predecessors. Which is not A Good Thing.