Blair: Arab initiative for peace ”not dead”
Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said on Sunday that an Arab initiative for peace in the region was "not dead" despite Israel's 22-day war on the Gaza Strip. "The Arab peace initiative is not dead unless we make it so," Blair said in Riyadh, where he held talks with Saudi King Abdullah.
Rather than create new obstacles, the Israeli war could be used to bolster the overall Middle East peace process, Blair indicated, according to AFP. Israel's unilateral ceasefire was "fragile now in the short-term, never mind the long-term," said the former British prime minister. But "it is only going to endure if we adopt a strategy which revitalises the whole peace process," he said.
Asked about the role of Hamas, Blair stressed the need for it to reconcile with other Palestinian groups, particularly the Fatah faction of Palestinian president which controls the West Bank. "The only way forward is on the basis of Palestinian unity. But it's got to be on the right terms" consistent with the Arab initiative and the two-state solution, he said.
Blair called for global help on the immediate humanitarian needs of the Palestinians, and the reconstruction work. However, he added: "We've got to make sure that this time the reconstruction happens within a framework that means we're not having to reconstruct again in a couple years time or less."