Blair: 'Arab Spring' hurts chances of securing peace deal

Special Mideast envoy writes that Israelis, Palestinians, are afraid to make concessions as regional political context rapidly changes.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
June 9, 2011 08:48
2 minute read.
Quartet Envoy Tony Blair

Tony Blair at IDC. (photo credit: Itzik Edri)

 
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Middle East special envoy Tony Blair said that the Arab Spring is going to make it harder to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians at the present time, the Guardian reported Thursday.

According to Blair, Palestinians and Israelis now find it difficult to make concessions to the other side, or even negotiate, because of uncertainties in how such compromises will be "played" out in a quickly shifting regional context.

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In the forward to his new autobiography, The Journey, Blair said that the stability provided by autocratic leaders such as former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been replaced by instability and unpredictability, causing Israel to be unsure of the threat it faces.

The Palestinians, he explains, suffer an inability to negotiate "for similar reasons but with an opposite conclusion." The Palestinian leadership, he explains, do not feel they have a trustworthy Israeli partner, and will find it difficult to make compromises which "will be tough to sell, in circumstances where they don't know the regional context into which such compromises will be played."

As for the Western role in the Arab Spring, the former UK prime minister makes it clear that an "active policy" must be taken. For Blair, that means warning despotic leader to "change, or be changed," the Guardian said.

Blair praised joint US-European action in Libya, saying that the military cooperation "showed leadership; and amongst the criticism there was also, in the region, relief that leadership was shown."

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The Middle East envoy said that it would have been impossible to leave Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in power after allowing Mubarak to be deposed, causing "damage to the west's credibility and stature" that would have been "irreparable."

That's what I mean by saying inaction is also a decision.," he added.

He makes the case however, that military intervention is not always the best remedy. He supported what he called "evolutionary change," such as "in the Gulf states."

Blair said that in countries already beginning on a "steady path of change" hold the right to do so without military intervention. He said that a government crosses the acceptable line when it begins to commit violence against its civilians, ignoring efforts or calls to reform, such as the case in Libya.

Blair was prime minister in the United Kingdom from 1997-2007.

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