By Khaled DiabAfter he hands over the reins of the premiership to Gordon Brown, Tony Blair intends to become a Catholic and is prime candidatefor the job of Middle East peace envoy for the largely dormant Quartet (USA, EU, UN and Russia).
This is a proposal that is hardly set to get the pulse racing at the exciting possibilities that, through the good offices of Blair, Israelis and Palestinians will move infinitely closer to peace. Given his own personal track record on Middle Eastern peace - namely invading Iraq and turning it into an anarchistic battleground and garnering a reputation in the Arab world as a 'war criminal' - his candidacy can only baffle and bewilder, not inspire. If you though Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank was bad - think again!
One can just imagine him addressing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his team in a closed session, earnestly pressing his sweaty palms together as he earnestly urges them in a voice of feigned earnestness, to give peace a chance. "You chaps really ought to stop bombing Gaza."
"Well, you bombed Iraq," the Israelis would remind him.
"Well, that was different," he would protest. "We were liberating the Iraqis from that evil Saddam."
"Well, the Palestinians can hit us in much less than 45 minutes - and we don't need a sexed up dossier to claim that." "Well, how about you end the occupation of the West Bank?" "Well, how about you end the occupation of Iraq?"
And then how would Blair handle the Palestinians, given the fact that he was one of the engineers of the international boycott that has brought such misery and destitution raining down on them. I mean, as prime minister, he's hardly shown much visionary potential as a peacemaker. If he had, he would've urged the USA and Israel to engage with the Palestinian unity government, rather than turn the screws and help percipitate the current chaos and lawlessness in Gaza.
What would've been better: a moderating Hamas engaging with the outside world or a hardening Hamas stamping de facto control over the streets of Gaza? I don't see how Tony Blair could broker with the Palestinians. Hamas would probably refuse to see him and any moderate Palestinian who did would be committing political suicide. So, at the end of the day, this ridiculous proposal seems to be neither here nor Blair - and the conflicts endless cycle will continue to spin.