Blair: Flotilla helped ease blockade

Quartet envoy tells BBC incident sped adoption of new approach to Gaza.

tony blair 311 (photo credit: AP)
tony blair 311
(photo credit: AP)
LONDON – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday that the recent Gaza flotilla incident probably helped expedite the easing of the blockade on the Strip.
In an interview with Owen Bennett-Jones for Newshour on the BBC World Service, the Middle East envoy for the Quartet was asked if he credited the flotilla activists with getting the blockade eased. Blair said Israel had been moving toward adopting a new approach to Gaza anyway, but conceded that the incident had “hugely accelerated” the process.
“Well I certainly think that what happened and the terrible incident over the flotilla has focused everybody’s mind,” Blair said. “I mean, it is true to say that the Israeli government, I think, were moving towards a different policy anyway, but of course what happened has hugely accelerated the idea, which frankly I’ve thought for a long time, which is that the only sensible basis on which to have this policy is a policy in which we protect Israel’s security, because in my view they have a complete and legitimate right to protect their security, but we improve the lives of people in Gaza,” he said.