Tony Blair is to make his first working visit to Ramallah in the West Bank next month as envoy of the quartet of Middle East peacemakers, it emerged yesterday, after his job was confirmed amid scepticism about any chance of his success.
His role of quartet representative was announced jointly in New York by the US, EU, UN and Russia. Mr Blair will work on building government institutions and the rule of law, mobilising international help, and promoting the economy.
"He will spend significant time in the region working with the parties and others to help create viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians, a robust economy, and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people," the quartet said in a statement.
They stopped short of giving Mr Blair an explicit role as mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians in the peace process, but did give a broad remit to "liaise with other countries as appropriate in support of the agreed quartet objectives". Sources close to Mr Blair said he expected his role to be bigger than that assigned to his predecessor, James Wolfensohn, a former World Bank president who resigned in frustration in April 2006 after focusing just on the economy, on preparation for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Source...