Bloomberg News

Palestinians Say Blair ‘Unwelcome,’ Charging Envoy Shows Bias

October 10, 2011

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Palestine Liberation Organization accused international envoy Tony Blair of bias toward Israel and said he should no longer represent the so- called Quartet in trying to mediate the Middle East conflict.

The statement issued today by the PLO, the body responsible for conducting peace negotiations on behalf of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, stopped short of saying it will no longer deal with the former U.K. prime minister. Blair has denied previous accusations of favoring Israel over the Palestinians.

“Blair is unwelcome because he violated his mission as an envoy of a neutral international committee that aims at achieving just peace in the region,” said the statement e- mailed by the PLO Foreign Relations Department from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Quartet, which comprises the U.S., Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, invited the Israelis and Palestinians on Sept. 23 to resume direct peace negotiations. Israel accepted the invitation while Abbas said Israel must stop all settlement construction before he would agree to talks.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, said yesterday that the Quartet is making “good progress” and its representatives would soon contact the Israelis and Palestinians to renew peace negotiations that were suspended more than a year ago.

Palestinians won’t boycott Blair even if they would prefer a replacement, said Ghassan Shak’aa, a member of the PLO Executive Committee. “We just want to say that he is not fair or neutral and he has been always biased to Israel,” said Shak’aa.

--Editors: Ben Holland, Eddie Buckle.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net; Saud Abu Ramadan in Gaza City at sramadan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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