Blair: Palestinian state can be built from 'bottom up'

Mideast envoy tells Reuters US-led efforts to revive peace process will soon lead to negotiations.

blair 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
blair 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Improving conditions for West Bank Palestinians shows that a Palestinian state can be "built from the bottom up while it's being negotiated from the top down," Quartet Mideast envoy Tony Blair said Tuesday. Speaking to Reuters on a visit to Nablus, Blair echoed comments he made to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Vice Premier Silvan Shalom on Monday that the Palestinian Authority's improving security capability as well as Israel's removal of some checkpoints had brought economic progress. He also said he believed US-led efforts to revive the stalled peace process would soon lead to negotiations. "The Americans are working very hard on this ... in the next few weeks, next few months, we're going to see the launch of credible political negotiations," Blair told Reuters in Nablus. Blair said the economy in Nablus was improving "because the Palestinians are providing their own security today, and doing it well, and the Israelis are starting to lift the access and movement restrictions." "There could be immense change here," he said, if talks went in parallel with "bottom-up" efforts, including "providing the security, lifting the weight of occupation, allowing the Palestinians to move and getting the economy going."