On Tony Blair and the Quartet

Above is the video of Peter Oborne’s recent Channel Four documentary on Tony Blair, his fortune made from consulting, and his very pro-Israel position as the Middle East Quartet’s representative.

Oborne focuses on possible abuses of his position at the Quartet for business purposes, but Blair’s diplomacy is well-worth examining too. In a sense, the problem is not so much Blair’s appointment at the Quartet as much as the Quartet being only a US tool, with the EU, UN and Russia having little say in how it goes. The EU, despite the difference in its policies on Israel/Palestine, has been particularly hampered by its presence in the Quartet, which dilutes the differences among EU members. It’s the Quartet that should be dissolved, and with it Blair’s job: i.e., the problem is not just Blair.

Marwan Bishara asks if it’s time to go for Tony Blair:

The question is: Would you buy a used car from Tony?

The Palestinians and the Arabs in general have concluded enough is enough.

Nabil Sha’ath, the Palestinian Authority’s first ever foreign minister, told me last year: “Forget Tony Blair. I think Mr Blair is at the wrong time at the wrong place and he’s just making it easier for Mr Netanyahu to deceive us, really, in more ways than one.”

Despite their suspicion that Blair betrayed them on more than a few occasions - siding with Israel behind their backs - he remained set in his position shuttling between Jerusalem, London and Washington.

And last week, Blair was dispatched to sell US and Israeli arguments for rejecting the Palestinian request for membership to reluctant UN Security Council members. He went beyond the call of duty.

There is always something for Tony in what Tony does, and nowadays he’s trying to renew his tenure as the international Quartet’s point man on Palestine. The Quartet, composed of the US, EU, UN and Russia, is supposedly responsible for making peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  

If I remember correctly, Blair negotiated his salary with Condi Rice at the State Department in 2007 when he was first appointed to the post. And he has one particular asset there. 

For all practical purpose, Tony has been the public face of Dennis Ross, Israel’s man at the White House. Ross has been a behind-the-scenes architect of the Obama administration’s policy shift over the past year, leading to Washington’s veto of the UN Security Council draft resolution on the illegality of Israeli settlements, and Obama’s Zionist speech, at the UN last week.