Blair: US wants plan based on Israel security

Quartet envoy insists that Bush's successor must keep Israel, Palestinians on agenda.

Blair 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Blair 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The US is more willing than ever before to help reach a peace deal based on Israel's security and a Palestinian state, Quartet special Middle East envoy Tony Blair told Channel 1 on Saturday. "There is a general understanding in the American political system that wasn't there a few years ago… [US President George] Bush's commitment is not just a personal commitment. If there can be a fair basis for a settlement, which includes protecting Israel's security," it is now Blair said. "The fact that [Bush] will come back to Israel for the second time in a year shows his commitment," the former British prime minister added, referring to the American leader's promise to celebrate the Jewish state's 60th independence day here. Asked whether Bush's successor will be expected to carry on "Bush's legacy," Blair answered that his "assessment is that it will be a priority of any incoming American president." Blair addressed Bush's decisions during his term, saying that "The president has to be tough. You need a tough person in the White House because there are ugly, and sometimes wicked forces out there that you sometimes want to kill or get rid of. I think that he did what he believed was right for America and the wider world." Returning to Israel, Blair said that "nobody thinks that the origin of the reason we have global terrorism is in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and if they do, they are wrong." Blair shook off several questions at the end of his interview during which he was asked to comment on the achievements of his replacement, Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Asked whether he was "toying with the idea of becoming the first president of the European Union," Blair answered that such a position did not yet exist and therefore did not plan on replying.