Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad welcomed on Thursday the appointment of Tony Blair as Mideast envoy. Shortly after stepping down as Britain's prime minister, Blair was named Wednesday by the "Quartet" of peace mediators.
"We welcome this appointment and look forward to working with him," Fayyad told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
On his part, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Blair would be an asset to the Palestinian efforts to establish an independent state alongside Israel. "Mr. Blair's expertise and knowledge about the situation will enable him to help us in terms of economic development, institution building and good government," Erekat said. "His commitment to a two-state solution is genuine and sincere."
Hamas has criticized Blair's appointment, saying he is too close to the United States.
"Blair, who supported the American occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, may not be a man of peace,'' Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in Gaza, according to AFP. "His appointment is not acceptable to Hamas nor to the Palestinians. He will not do anything to support the Palestinian interests but will do everything to support the Israeli occupation,'' he added.