Friday, June 29, 2007

Tony Blair: A true friend of Israel

Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 29 June 2007

""A true friend of the State of Israel," said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of his outgoing British counterpart Tony Blair. He was appointed this week as special envoy for the Middle East Quartet with a portfolio focused on Palestinian economic and political reform. "Tony Blair is a very well-appreciated figure in Israel," said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. According to an Israeli government statement, Israel "will provide [him] with all necessary assistance in order for him to carry out his duties."

It should not come as a surprise that Israeli government officials welcome Blair to his new job. Although he has long claimed to be interested in supporting justice for the Palestinians, Blair has an unremitting record of bias towards Israel. After George W. Bush, Blair is probably the most disliked and distrusted individual, among Palestinians as well as in the Arab world in general. This stems not only from his role in the Iraq war, but because he has swallowed the neoconservative agenda whole, becoming one of the leading proponents of a "clash of civilizations" between a supposedly enlightened West and a backward Islamic world......

Blair's anti-Palestinian bias began early in his political career. During his time as prime minister, Blair regularly consulted a pro-Israel lobby group, Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). He has been close to this group ever since he became a member of parliament fourteen years ago. In his speech to the LFI Annual Reception in September 2006, Blair said: "I have never actually found it hard to be friend of Israel, I am proud to be a friend of Israel."......

At the G8 summit in St. Petersburg as Israel's war on Lebanon raged, Bush and Blair were caught on an open microphone talking about whether US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should head to the region, or whether Blair should go himself. [7] Blair said to Bush, "If she goes out, she's got to succeed, as it were, whereas I can just go out and talk."......That is exactly what Blair's new function will be. He can just go out and talk..... "

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