Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair is trying to expand his authority in the face of American opposition, according to the French news agency AFP. The Quartet is meeting in Lisbon, and American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to attend this week.
Blair, stepped down as British Prime Minister earlier this year and shortly later was named to represent the Quartet in efforts to help the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The Bush administration wants Blair to work on helping the PA function instead of getting involved in negotiations with Israel. However, foreign ministers from leading European nations recently wrote a letter calling on Blair to urge negotiations on final borders for a new Arab state. The move is in direct contradiction to the American and Israeli position that calls for temporary borders as a first step towards creating a new country on land that was restored to Israel in 1967 after the Six-Day War.