14 September 2007

Middle East Optimism

While convinced that Mr Abbas needs a clear "political horizon", Mr Blair is said to accept Israel's position that it will not move to concrete final status negotiations until it is confident that such a state is coherent enough not to pose a threat to Israel's security.

In his view therefore a programme of Palestinian "capacity building"; the measures Mr Abbas needs to ease the restrictions on Palestinian economy - and boost it in areas like the Jordan valley, which Mr Blair toured this week; and the central diplomatic process, are all interdependent.

Part of this conviction stems from his experience in Northern Ireland, where he faced continuous objections from the Army to "demilitarisation" plans. But when the Army saw their objections might be blamed for holding back a political process, they were more reluctant to press them.
Tony Blair with halo of EU starsI was about to comment on The Independent's optimistic review of Tony Blair's Middle East mission, but notice that His Grace has already done so with his usual eloquence: He’s not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy. I am inclined to agree with his verdict:
Will he do it? Well, Cranmer has a hunch that he will. He achieved in Northern Ireland what had been deemed a religio-political impossibility, and today The Rt Hon Ian RK Paisley is governing the Province with an unrepentant terrorist at his side. It would be churlish not to put this down in very large part to the conviction, sincerity and charisma of Mr Blair.