Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview that he believes countries in the Arab region formally establishing diplomatic ties with Israel will likely lead to a settlement with the Palestinians.
Speaking at the Jerusalem Post conference, Blair criticised the decades-long attempts at first bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians in order to establish the normalisation deals being made recently.
“The foundation of the approach in the region, that Israelis and Palestinians negotiate peace and then the rest of the region joins, is the diametric opposite of what should happen,” he said.
“Actually, what you need to do is create peace between Israel and the Arab nations and include the Palestinian issue in that peace.”
Blair, who was appointed special envoy of the Quartet – a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – all but gave up on any hope of a Palestinian state emerging with Israel’s ongoing annexation.
He was a key figure in laying the foundations for the Israel-United Arab Emirates (UAE) peace agreement through his secret operations over many years.
Israel Hayom reported that Blair was a mediator between Israel and the UAE as he travelled between London, Abu Dhabi and Nicosia to hold a series of clandestine meetings with lawyer Yitzhak Molcho, a former special envoy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a UAE government minister.
“We’ve got to try and bring forward a generation of Palestinian politicians that understand that the only way they’ll get a Palestinian state is through a genuine and deep understanding between people, between cultures, and not just a negotiation about territory,” he said.
In the meantime, the most important thing for Israel to do is to try to alleviate the Palestinians’ economic situation, he added.
“In the end, I think it’s the best way to resolve the Palestinian issue fairly and justly,” he said.