311_Tony Blair book cover photo.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Quarter Envoy Tony Blair's spokeswoman has denied any implication that Blair helped rescue a Palestinian cell phone company on the verge of bankruptcy because of its financial ties with one of his consulting clients, as was first reported by The Daily Mail in its Sunday issue. The report claimed that the former British prime minister mounted an
intense political lobbying campaign to save the cellphone company, Wataniya, in which the banking giant JP Morgan indirectly holds a significant financial stake through its investments in Wataniya's Qatari parent company Qtel.
"Tony Blair raised Wataniya at the request of the Palestinian Authority in his role as Quartet Representative along with many others in the International Community," Blair spokesperson Ruti Winterstein the Jerusalem Post. "He has no knowledge of any connection between QTel and JP Morgan and has never discussed the issue with JP Morgan, nor have they ever raised it with him. Any suggestion that he raised it for any reason other than the one stated to help the Palestinians or that in some way he has benefited from Wataniya is untrue and defamatory."
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Wataniya's business almost collapsed because Israel refused to let it use the frequencies it needed to operate, according to the Daily Mail
Using his influence as the Quartet's Middle East peace envoy, Blair was able to put pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an attempt to reverse the Israeli decision, The Daily Mail
The paper's special investigation alleged that Blair spoke of the need
to establish and invest in the company in order to boost the Palestinian
economy. However, the American investment bank JP Morgan, that employs
Blair as a consultant, has a financial stake in the Palestinian company
and stood to lose millions of dollars if the investments did not pay
The family of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also stood
to gain from Blair's influence, as a company owned by son Tarek Abbas
had already signed advertisement contracts with Wataniya.
Blair has faced demands to publish full details of the many business
interests that have allowed him to amass a personal fortune estimated to
be worth at least 15 million pounds, the paper reported.
Ronen Shnidman contributed to this report.