Recently I have been questioning the wisdom of Tony Blair’s decision to go to the Middle East when he returns from his holiday. Originally I thought that Tony Blair’s international standing on the World stage is now so bad that only Israel would give him a warm welcome. After all the Palestinian’s and Lebaneseare hardly going to fall over themselves with gratitude for Blair’s failure to condemn the atrocities purpotrated against them and his efforts to prevent a ceasefire in Lebanon.
But it was even worse than that. Not even the Israelis want to talk to him. Blair’s sleazy Middle East envoy Lord Levy has been in Israel and Palestine trying to pave the way for Blair’s visit and has been soundly rebuffed by Ehud Olmert.
The Israeli rebuff was reportedly delivered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at private talks last week with Blair’s Middle East envoy, Lord Levy. In a series of meetings to test the diplomatic waters, Levy also met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Downing Street and Levy refused any comment yesterday on his meetings. But a diplomatic source familiar with the talks told The Observer that Olmert’s message was: ‘Not now. After this difficult war, Israelis are simply not ready for new talks with the Palestinians.’
Blair, however, still plans to go ahead with his trip. After all, unlike any other world leader, he has to ask for the permission of the President of the United States before he can play at being a statesman. He was refused permission at the G8 summit but this time his wish has been granted so he’s not going to let a small thing like no one wanting to see him get in the way of his last shot at glory. But he’s got his work cut out. The ceasefire is holding for the moment…just. But there is still little sign of the international force arriving any time soon, and Israel is doing its level best to break the truce, while tensions with Iran are increasing. And all this time the Palestinians have been continuously under attack with much of the elected government kidnapped by the Israelis. He is unlikely to make much progress in Lebanon either. The Lebanese Prime Minister has already dismissed Condoleezza Rice once in this conflict so telling Blair to get lost shouldn’t be a problem for him, although he is expected to be diplomatic and welcome him. Hezbollah, on the other hand has not wasted any time in telling Blair to stay away and why.
TONY BLAIR’S peace mission to the Middle East appeared in jeopardy last night after Hezbollah declared that the Prime Minister would not be welcome in Lebanon because of his support for Israel during the war.
A senior member of Hezbollah’s politburo has told The Times that Mr Blair should stay away from the country because he was “up to his ears in the blood of Lebanese women and children”.
So it’s very hard to see just what his Toniness can expect to achieve on this mission. I’ll reiterate that in my opinion the only reason Blair is insisting on making this ill-advised trip is because his popularity at home is only marginally better than his popularity with Hezbollah. He needs to do something to convince his mutinous party that he really is trying to do something to bring about peace in the Middle East and is capable of some independence from the “crap” Mr Bush. As always with Blair however, it’s appearance rather than substance that matters, especially just before the Labour Party conference where there will be a sizable crowd demanding to know when he is going to stand down. Blair has already been warned by the UN Deputy Secretary General to take a back seat on the Lebanon crisis. He has been snubbed by the Isaelis, humiliated by the Americans, reluctantly tolerated by Fuad Saniora and told to get lost by Hezbollah. This man just can’t take a hint. Not even when 100,000 people marched past his house telling him what they thought of him and lobbing shoes at the gates of Downing Street.