Quartet Mideast envoy Tony Blair 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)
Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair on Thursday asked the Israeli public to trust that the international community is doing everything in its power to ensure that Israel remains safe and that Iran does not achieve nuclear weapons capability.
"Your security here is [the international community's] security," Blair said in an interview with Army Radio. "This is not just Israel's problem. It's our problem too- the international community."
"I've made it clear all along that when we say it's unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons capability, we should mean it," Blair said. "We have to be clear that all actions, including the military option, must remain on the table."
But Blair also hinted a warning against a premature military strike on Iran. "The consequences of action on Iran are unpredictable and very serious indeed," Blair said. "This is a choice between two options, both of which are ugly."
Turning to the subject of stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Blair placed paramount importance on restarting talks. "We desperately need a viable and strong political process," he said.
Asked what is lacking in negotiations thus far, Blair said "the trust that each leadership has in the other is very low," adding: "My plea is for us to find a way to get back in a serious, proper negotiation."
Specifically referencing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's willingness and motivation to make peace, Blair said "in order to [make peace], you have to spend a certain amount of political capital and to take a certain amount of political risk. And that is very difficult."
Blair also said outright that he believes Israel's prime minister is committed to the peace process. "I'm sure that Netanyahu has not given up on peace. I see him very regularly, probably two times a month. He has a desire to put a proper negotiation back in place and to achieve something."
The quartet envoy added that restarting negotiations is vital to restore a modicum of stability to a vastly unstable Middle East. "This is a region of chronic instability, in Syria, Lebanon... and in Gaza," Blair said. "It's strongly in Israel's interest to try to put this Palestinian issue in a more benign circumstance."
Blair is in Israel for the ongoing Facing Tomorrow conference, and on Tuesday spoke on a panel with President Shimon Peres and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger on the key foreign relations and security challenges facing the Middle
East and the world.