Blair: Mideast peace process in jeopardy

Quartet envoy calls for strong negotiations toward two-state solution and major changes on the ground.

blair touched Palestinian boy 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
blair touched Palestinian boy 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Middle East envoy Tony Blair said Wednesday the peace process was in jeopardy and Israel must fully support the goal of living in peace next to an independent Palestinian state. He said a period of political inactivity caused by the Israeli elections and the change of administration in Washington had harmed the peace process. "We face a situation of very great jeopardy for the peace process" in 2009, said the Quartet envoy after talks at EU headquarters with Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU external relations commissioner. "We need a combination of strong political negotiations toward a two-state solution and major change on the ground." "The next six months actually will be completely critical in determining whether this process can move forward or whether it will slip back," he added. He spoke a day after new Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised to seek peace with Israel's Arab neighbors, but stopped short of mentioning a two-state solution. It also came as, in his first speech as the new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman said that while Israel was committed to every aspect of the Road Map, it was not obligated by the Annapolis process. Netanyahu and Lieberman reportedly reached a coalition agreement to build in the controversial E1 area, between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim. "Now that we have a new administration in place in the United States, now that we have a new government in place in Israel this is the time when we have to make 2009 a year of progress," said Blair.