Tony Blair officially resigned yesterday as the Quartet diplomatic group's envoy, his office said, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he worked to end in a state of dismal ruin and chaos.
Blair was always a controversial appointment to the position given his Jewish friends in high society in London and perhaps more poignantly his legacy of supporting the US on a massive invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on doctored intelligence reports which showed that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).
More recently though he has come under fire for his strained relations with Palestinian officials, a notion strongly denied today by White House officials.
In UK, his own country, he faced a baptism of scorn from his many leading figures in society over his shocking lust for wealth, using his unique position to offer himself to various governments in the region as a highly paid consultant – a move on its own which would normally render his position as proxy diplomat as untenable.
But that was part of the genius of Blair: making the unacceptable appear acceptable, using his charm and diplomacy to win the hearts of those who could not resist his amiable manner. Yet smooth talking, in the end, became his Waterloo as the genesis of his self-destruction came from his very choice of words, when bemoaning the Palestinian quandary. But it was Iraq which even for the Arabs in the region, set him off on the wrong foot with the Palestinians.
"Impotent" and "useless" – Palestinian officials
"For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – Blair's appointment was an insult" Robert Fisk writes in the Independent today. "The man who never said he was sorry for his political disaster simply turned up in Jerusalem four years later and, with a team which spent millions in accommodation and air fares, managed to accomplish absolutely nothing in the near-decade that followed".
Fisk argues also that only the Israelis will miss the British former premiere, who struggled to actually base himself in the region, with one aide bragging that he had visited the region a hundred times – failing to realize the irony of Blair also leaving the Middle East for more interesting and lucrative locations.
"Blair appeared indifferent to the massive suffering of the Palestinians – he was clearly impotent in preventing it – and spent much of his time away from the tragedy of the Middle East, advising the great and the good and a clutch of Muslim dictators, and telling the world – to Israel's satisfaction – of the dangers represented by Iran".
Indeed, it could be argued therefore that he actually contributed to the malaise of the Israel/Palestinian But events on the ground showed how far away is peace -- although the goal of a two-state solution remains.
Israel carried out four air strikes on militants in the Gaza Strip, witnesses said, just hours after a cross border rocket attack on Israel.
The situation on the ground is "not sustainable," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini gushed, with few western media buffs pointing out that the toothless EU diva supports Netanyahu's appalling handiwork and backed down, within weeks of taking her new job, of going ahead with an EU sanctions plan to curtail Israel's patent disregard for any genuine two state solution, given that such an agreement has to be based on the respect of Palestinian boundaries.
Washington: 'Thanks Tony'
The US State Department was among those thanking Blair, calling him a "valued partner" who has worked tirelessly to advance economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza yet managing to leave out of its praise that the former British Prime Minister has also managed to acquire considerable wealth himself from working for the Egyptian president and wealthy Gulf states like UAE and Qatar, the latter actually helping Blair launder huge pay offs around the world from other governments seeking his services, like the Columbian government.
Blair, it should be remembered, is part of the west's failure in Gaza to sustain any real peace talks. He smooched Gulf leaders and partied in London while Gaza fell apart – and the was ultimately bombed to a near biblical calamity as it is today.
The last Middle East peace talks fell apart in April 2014. And prospects for their renewal seem bleak with a lack of trust between the sides exacerbated by the formation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new hardline coalition whose line up of ministers includes a number of hardcore right wingers who regularly call for the total obliteration of Gaza.
Blair tendered his resignation in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, an official in Blair's office told AFP.
Sources close to Blair said he would step down officially next month.
Blair was appointed to the unpaid Quartet position in 2007 to support the Palestinian economy and institutions in preparation for eventual statehood.
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