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Blair Urges Council on Foreign Relations to Pressure Israel

Former British PM Tony Blair calls for US President-elect Obama to press for Israel to make territorial concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
By Baruch Gordon
First Publish: 12/5/2008, 3:38 AM

Photo: Flash 90

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for United States President-elect Barack Obama to press hard for Israel to make further territorial concessions to the Palestinian Authority. Blair, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Wednesday, also praised Obama’s selections to lead his national security team, most notably former NATO commander General James L. Jones as National Security Advisor for the incoming administration. Jones was until recently the US special envoy for Middle East security and in that role has advocated sending a NATO force to impose a solution in Judea and Samaria.

Blair is currently the international envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet, which is made up of the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia and has been pushing President George W. Bush’s Road Map for a Palestinian state to be created in parts of Israel. Blair told a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations that the time is now right for renewed pressure on the Jewish state and that much will be riding on what course of action Obama decides to take.

According to the Associated Press, Blair said, “What the president-elect has put together is a very, very strong team; not just with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state,” but also retired General James L. Jones as Obama’s national security adviser.

Noting that he has worked with Jones in the retired NATO commander’s role as US special envoy for Middle East security, Blair said Jones is “someone who understands the situation very well.”

“I think there is a consensus now among the international community – not just America, but everyone – on how to deal with this,” Blair said. “The question is now, what people will watch for: Is it taken forward with the requisite urgency and determination? I have every confidence that it will be.”

President-elect Obama, himself a member of the CFR, has pledged to make progress on the Middle East conflict a key diplomatic priority from his first day in office. He has called for a sustained push to achieve the goal of two states, one Jewish and one Arab, both in the small territory between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River.

Yehuda HaKohen of the Zionist Freedom Alliance told Israel National News that Tony Blair is "one of the biggest obstacles to regional stability" and that so long as the Quartet and CFR interfere in the Middle East, there will never be peace between Arabs and Jews.

“Tony Blair and other foreign leaders are responsible for fanning the flames of conflict in the Middle East,” HaKohen said. He continued:

“In fact, it was the British who originally turned local Arabs and Jews against one another in order to further their own colonialist agenda for our region. And now Western governments arm both sides and then attempt to impose artificial diplomatic solutions. The Israeli government and PA leaderships today both behave as puppets to foreign regimes and both the local Jewish and Arab populations are suffering. The way to achieve real peace between peoples here is to work from the bottom up and not the top down. The Jewish and Arab peoples are both native to the Middle East. We have a great deal in common. But for efforts at genuine peace to succeed, Western governments and multinational corporations need to leave our region alone and let the indigenous Jews and Arabs settle things between ourselves.”