Blair warns of ‘confrontational’ Palestinian bid
Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said Friday the Palestinian bid for UN membership was a brilliant tactical move but warned it could become “confrontational” without direct talks with Israel.
Blair, envoy for the diplomatic Quartet of the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations, said the group was still making frantic efforts to agree a statement that could help set up new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The former British prime minister told the BBC in an interview that the Quartet is not trying to stop Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas making an application bid on Friday.
“I keep saying to them, if this is a tactic, in one sense, it’s worked brilliantly. People are focused now on what we can do to re-launch a negotiation,” Blair said.
He added however that no resolution by the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly would “deliver you a state on the ground.”
“And if you don’t have a negotiation, whatever you do at the UN is going to be deeply confrontational.”
The United States has vowed to veto any Palestinian bid to the Security Council, which must approve any application for full UN membership. The United State and Israel say there cannot be a Palestinian state without direct talks.
Blair said it would help the Palestinian case to get talks going while the UN Security Council is considering the application, which could take weeks to get to a vote.
“The Palestinian Authority and president Abbas are perfectly capable of negotiating with the Israelis,” Blair said, while insisting that he understood the “frustration” of the Palestinians over the peace deadlock.
Blair said Quartet representatives had been negotiating “literally day and night, every hour that God sends for the last five days” to get a statement on the Middle East conflict that could set out the parameters for new talks.
“We?re not there yet but we?re still trying to do it,” Blair said.
Blair said last night talks had finished after 1:00 am (0500 GMT) while diplomats said new negotiations were held later on Friday morning.