Envoy Blair begins peace talks


Summary

He has begun the task of helping Palestinians build solid foundations for their future state by offering ideas to Israeli leaders designed to stabilise the shaky government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

南宁桑拿

Israeli foreign minister Tsipi Livni says the Blair mission on behalf of the Quartet of Mideast mediators comes at a critical time, with the possibility of creating a change of direction after years of stalemate in peacemaking.

Blair's limited mandate from the four powers – the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – is to help the Palestinians develop their economy, build governing institutions and to lay the groundwork for statehood.

But he has been instructed to leave aside the underlying issues of the 60-year-old Middle Eastern conflict, such as borders, Palestinian refugees and the governance of Jerusalem, leading some to doubt how much of an effect he can have.

Listen-and-learn mission

Israel, though, says the importance of his task should not be under-rated.

"Anyone who believes that nation-building is a peripheral issue doesn't understand the process," said Livni's spokesman, Mark Regev, after Blair's first meeting with her.

Regev said Blair and Livni exchanged ideas, and Blair's first trip was more than a listen-and-learn mission.

"He's listening, but he's not coming as a newcomer," Regev said. Blair "has extensive knowledge of the area. He is well aware of the concerns of both parties. He is well positioned to help the process."

Creating the conditions of good governance has been complicated by the feud among the Palestinians that led to the forcible takeover of Gaza by the Islamist Hamas movement in a bloody five-day war.

Abbas's Fatah movement now spearheads a moderate government in the West Bank while Hamas has control of Gaza.

On Tuesday, Blair travels to the West Bank to meet Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, before winding up his maiden foray with a dinner at the home of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


He has begun the task of helping Palestinians build solid foundations for their future state by offering ideas to Israeli leaders designed to stabilise the shaky government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

深圳桑拿网

Israeli foreign minister Tsipi Livni says the Blair mission on behalf of the Quartet of Mideast mediators comes at a critical time, with the possibility of creating a change of direction after years of stalemate in peacemaking.

Blair's limited mandate from the four powers – the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – is to help the Palestinians develop their economy, build governing institutions and to lay the groundwork for statehood.

But he has been instructed to leave aside the underlying issues of the 60-year-old Middle Eastern conflict, such as borders, Palestinian refugees and the governance of Jerusalem, leading some to doubt how much of an effect he can have.

Listen-and-learn mission

Israel, though, says the importance of his task should not be under-rated.

"Anyone who believes that nation-building is a peripheral issue doesn't understand the process," said Livni's spokesman, Mark Regev, after Blair's first meeting with her.

Regev said Blair and Livni exchanged ideas, and Blair's first trip was more than a listen-and-learn mission.

"He's listening, but he's not coming as a newcomer," Regev said. Blair "has extensive knowledge of the area. He is well aware of the concerns of both parties. He is well positioned to help the process."

Creating the conditions of good governance has been complicated by the feud among the Palestinians that led to the forcible takeover of Gaza by the Islamist Hamas movement in a bloody five-day war.

Abbas's Fatah movement now spearheads a moderate government in the West Bank while Hamas has control of Gaza.

On Tuesday, Blair travels to the West Bank to meet Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, before winding up his maiden foray with a dinner at the home of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.