Blair set to come to Israel


Tony Blair, the Quartet’s new peace envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said he would visit the region this month.

“It is a fundamental issue – I will be starting straight away,” Blair told the British newspaper the Northern Echo in an interview after he stepped down last week as British prime minister and accepted his new role as Middle East peace envoy for the Quartet – the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

Blair is expected to maintain an office in Jerusalem and travel regularly to the West Bank city of Ramallah as he tries to build up Palestinian institutions following the split between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, which controlled the post of P.A. prime minister until last month’s violence in the Gaza Strip.

Blair said he sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as symbolic of “the state of the relationship between the Western world and the Muslim world and between different cultures and religions.”

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