Blair enjoying his role as envoy of the Middle East “Quartet”

November 14th, 2007 - 2:06 am ICT by admin  
While keeping a low media profile, Blair has recently been zooming in on Palestinian living conditions in the West Bank, whose improvement is seen as vital to gaining support for reviving peace talks that collapsed with the eruption of the Palestinian uprising seven years ago.

During his latest foray, the Israelis greeted Blair with bagels, cookies and spin at an army tent, reports The Scotsman.

His shirtsleeves rolled up, Blair listened as a senior officer pointed to a map of the West Bank and explained how “back to back” trucking at inspection terminals has been designed to ensure a smooth flow of Palestinian commerce.

“We have six crossing points for goods, giving us an opportunity to move 2,500 trucks a day” between Israel and the West Bank, the officer told Blair.

“There will be two inspection shifts. We’ve bought five scanners to scan containers,” he added.

A spokesman for Blair said he was relishing the micro aspect of his new role.

“As prime minister he would come for a couple of days, a couple of times a year. He dealt with things in headline terms. But now he can give it the time and really get into the details and make suggestions on how to move things forward,” he added.

Blair is also gaining international financial backing for short and medium-term projects whose stated purpose is to boost support for Palestinian moderates in the West Bank such as president Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad against the challenge of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement.

In political terms, Blair endorses the Israeli view that the Palestinians need grooming before they are ready for statehood.

Israeli officials are satisfied with Blair’s mission thus far and say he is making an important contribution in the run-up to the US sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November. (ANI)

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