Palestinian negotiators criticize ex-UK PM Blair for ‘Israeli bias’

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LONDON - Palestinian officials have criticized former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as being too paternalistic and of having a bias towards Israel’s security needs over Palestinian economic needs.

They accused Blair, envoy of the Middle East quartet, as seeming “to advocate an apartheid-like approach to dealing with the occupied West Bank”.

“The overall tone, without making any judgment as to intent, is paternalistic and frequently uses the style and jargon of the Israeli occupation authorities,” complained a memo by the PA’s negotiations support unit reviewing his proposals.

The Guardian quotes the negotiators as adding that: “Some of the terms (eg ’separate lanes’ and ‘tourist-friendly checkpoints’) are unacceptable to Palestinians.”

Palestinian papers underscore Blair’s quartet role as a high-level middleman, interceding with the Israelis to remove roadblocks, improve movement and access in the West Bank, seek approval for projects and co-ordinate with the US to press for the deployment of PA security forces.

He also passed messages to the Palestinians, including concerns of Israel’s Shin Bet security service about the too-speedy release of prisoners.

But there are signs that the Israelis did not take him too seriously, while PA officials were scathing about his “offensive” language and acceptance of Israeli and US assumptions. (ANI)

Filed under: Politics

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