Blair: Israel faced post-pullout nightmare

ME envoy tells FADC he understands hesitancy to cede land in the West Bank to the Palestinians.

blair makes point 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
blair makes point 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
If he were an MK, the Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair would hesitate to cede land in the West Bank to the Palestinians after the "nightmare" that the Israelis faced after they disengaged from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, he said Wednesday. However Blair, addressing the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, added that Israel must continue with the peace process despite its security concerns. "I understand and sympathize with the problems that the [Israelis] are having. For people on the outside it is hard to understand… today I understand more than when I was the prime minister the difficulties here," said Blair. As doubtful as the Israeli side was about peace, the Palestinians were just as unsure, said Blair, who meets regularly with high-level officials from both sides. Blair told the committee about the economic programs that he hopes to launch to bolster the Palestinian economy. He explained that a diplomatic process would be useless unless there were real changes on the ground to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. Likud MK Limor Livnat was angered when Blair refused to answer her question regarding PA President Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "He would not, or could not, answer the question of why the Palestinians leadership was entering into peace talks without recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state," she said.