Blair unveils new 'West Bank package'

Quartet envoy announces area around Jenin where Palestinians will have greater security control.

Blair 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Blair 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Quartet envoy Tony Blair on Tuesday unveiled a package of steps designed to allow greater movement in the West Bank, and help the Palestinian economy grow in a way in which he said would be consistent with protecting Israeli security. Blair, speaking a day before the arrival of US President George Bush, said that the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, after weeks of negotiations, have agreed on the steps which he said could begin to change the reality on the ground. "For Palestinian statehood to be possible in the eyes of Palestinians there must be hope that occupations will, over time, be lifted," Blair said. "For Palestinian statehood to be possible in the eyes of Israelis, there must be hope, over time, that the security of Israel will be improved and not harmed by the way the Palestinians run their territory." Blair, at a press conference at his headquarters in the American Colony Hotel, said that the centerpiece of the package is an area in and around Jenin which is greater in land mass than the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians will be given increased security authority and a number of economic and social projects will begin there. In addition, Blair said that the Israelis had agreed to remove four checkpoints throughout the West Bank, upgrade seven others, and move one.