Blair: Quartet talks were not a failure, talks must resume

Quartet envoy tells Channel 2 he understands why Palestinians seek UN upgrade, but only negotiations will solve peace process.

tony blair presidential conference 2009 (photo credit: Courtesy)
tony blair presidential conference 2009
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Quartet envoy to the Middle East and former UK prime minister Tony Blair told Channel 2 news Thursday that Monday's Quartet talks centering around renewing Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations were not a complete failure, and that in the face of "difficult issues" and agreement is more pressing than ever.
Blair said that he understands why the Palestinian Authority is adamantly pursuing UN recognition of a Palestinian state, but said that he did not think this would produce a final resolution. The Quartet envoy stressed that only through agreement can a peaceful solution be reached.
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The former UK prime minister, who will return to the region in a matter of days, also said that the Palestinian Authority fears entering negotiations where refugees have have been "pre-judged" in any final outcome.
Blair is expected to return to the region in a matter of days to continue the Quartet’s search for a formula that will keep the Palestinians from seeking statehood recognition at the UN in September and enable negotiations to restart.
The Quartet envoy maintained his optimism about the future of the peace process during his interview with Channel 2 despite that fact that the Quartet meeting in Washington Monday failed to result in what many expected would be a joint statement including a formula for returning to negotiations.
Israeli officials declined to discuss whether the reason for the failure to come out with a statement was not only because of gaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but also differences among members of the Quartet themselves. Fatah’s commissioner for international relations, Nabil Shaath was quoted by Palestinian news agency Wafa as saying that Russia had "played a crucial role in preventing the Quartet from adopting a stance that calls the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
The Quartet is made up of the US, EU, Russia and the UN.