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* Missed messages on Iran  Robert Kagan

* Envoy Condemns US Officials' Irresponsible Comments on Iran  News Report

* 'Israel will be destroyed if it attacks Iran'  News Report

* Warning of long war if Israel attacks Iran  News Report

* Iran unlikely to halt nuclear program, secret letters show  News Report

* Iran denies Ahmadi-Nejad was attacked  News Report

* Sanctions set stage for a new push on Iran  News Report

* اطلاعیۀ آیت الله منتطری دربارۀ حرام بودن مقاومت در برابر رأی مردم  Ali Behrooz

* لیست اسامی با حروف فارسی، تا تاریخ 08/09/08  Ali Behrooz

* War of words, or words of war  Ali Behrooz

* Could Israel use submarines against Iran?  News Report

* Iran deplores UAE claim on 3 islands  News Report

* 'Iran will respond to any attack'  News Report

* Carter to meet Hamas leadership in Cairo  News Report

* No Peace Without Hamas  News Report

* Ahmadinejad again voices Sept. 11 doubts  News Report

* Clinton, Obama tackle Iran issue in debate  News Report

* Bomb kills at least 9 in Iran mosque  News Report

* Iran demands Israel stop force threats  News Report

* Ahmadinejad to dismiss 2 cabinet ministers in Iran  News Report

* Iran: Naval encounter routine check  News Report

* Tony Blair's Palestine  News Report

* Clinton attacks Obama and McCain over Iraq  News Report

* Reza Pahlavi: Leadership for Democracy in Iran  News Report

* Petraeus: Return to 'pre-surge' troop levels, then wait  News Report

* Blast rocks US complex in Sanaa  News Report

* Clashes in Nile Delta after strike aborted  News Report

* When a great power goes mad  News Report

* Iranians defy censor with bootleg DVDs  News Report

* Putin says Iran is no threat  News Report

* Creating a US-Iran Bridge  News Report

* Court removes PKK from terror funds list  News Report

* 12 militants wanted by Israel flee Palestinian jail in West Bank after fight  News Report

* Limiting Tehran’s Influence?  Ali Behrooz

* UAE detains ship as grip on Tehran tightens  News Report

* Iranian critic not guilty of espionage  News Report

* Israelis and Palestinians pledge to reach peace pact by end of 2008  News Report

* Conference in Qom focuses on Iran-US challenges  News Report

* FM spokesman: Iran's plan on Iraq not put for voting  News Report

* Iran's top dissident cleric calls for U.S. talks  News Report

* Islamic militants take fight against Musharraf to 'Pakistan's Switzerland'  News Report

* 'Desperate' Musharraf declares martial law  News Report

* US Sanctions on Iran Leave Europeans in a Quandary  Sir Cyril Townsend

* After Thamilselvan  News Report

* Analysis: Is Abbas playing his cards right ahead of ME summit?  News Report

* Bahrain accuses Iran of nuclear weapons lie  News Report

* Senior Tamil Tiger leader killed  News Report

* US declares PKK 'a common enemy'  News Report

* Iran urged to join Gulf nuclear deal  News Report

* Iran's leaders need enemies like Bush, and at every turn he obliges them  News Report

* Giuliani hits Democrats on Iran  News Report

* Iran: We have no information on Arad  News Report

* Clinton hails US move on Iran  News Report

* Israel to prepare for potential missile attack  News Report

* US First Lady in Kuwait  News Report

* Rice: Mideast solution in jeopardy  News Report

* Kurdish fighters defy the world from mountain fortress as bombing begins  News Report

* Protesters confront Condoleezza Rice as she testifies on Middle East  News Report

* Showdown With Iran  News Report

* U.S. outlines Baghdad security handover plan  News Report

* Poll shows global opposition to Iran - and U.S.  News Report

* Iraq promises Turkey it will curb Kurdish rebels  News Report

* Big shoes to fill  News Report

* LUKOIL says halts Iran oil project on US sanctions  News Report

* Three soldiers killed in Darfur camp attack - UN  News Report

* There's a better - and cheaper - way that Washington can help Lebanon  News Report

* Lebanese patience for Nahr al-Bared displaced wears thin  News Report

* Iran, Syria urge diplomatic means instead of military incursion into Iraq  News Report

* Talabani refuses to deliver PKK leaders to Turkey amid protests against incursion  News Report

* Turkey vows to defeat PKK rebels  News Report

* Iran N-case on Olmert's Paris agenda  News Report

* Motaki (FM): US in No Position to Attack Iran  News Report

* We will fight to the death, Kurdish rebel leader vows from his hideout  News Report

* Deaths And Hostages In Border Clash  News Report

* Flash News: Kurdish separatistand 12 Turkish soldiers killed  News Report

* IRGC Commander:Aggressions to Be Reciprocated with a Rain of Rockets  News Report

* 2 leaders back Blair as European Union president  News Report

* Babacan stresses dialogue as key to solving Lebanese crisis  News Report

* Jordan hopes for positive outcome of Annapolis meeting  News Report

* Iran's nuclear negotiator resigns  News Report

* Larijani Resigns  Ali Behrooz

* NATO says shipment of roadside bombs was 'from Iran'  News Report

* Israel impeding effort to clear cluster bombs  News Report

* Bhutto defiant over bomb attack  News Report

* Democrats' stance on Iran criticized  News Report

* Top Palestinian negotiator may resign  News Report

* UN condemns killing of its truck drivers in Darfur  News Report

* Kurds sign oil deals beyond regional borders – former minister  News Report

* Jerusalem is ours, warns Likud  News Report

* Rice back in Israel after Egypt talks  News Report

* Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers in southern Iran go on strike  News Report

* Ahmadinejad: Caspian states to form economic cooperation organization  News Report

* Putin lands in Iran for nuke talks  News Report

* Mideast Conference and the Illusive Peace  News Report

* Coalition of the Reluctant  News Report

* World bank neglects African farming, study says  News Report

* Putin dismisses threat of assassination in Iran  News Report

* Israel signals readiness to cede parts of Jerusalem to Palestinians  News Report

* Christiane Amanpour: 'People think I relax with a Kalashnikov - I don't'  News Report

* After honeymoon, Sarkozy method poses three risks  News Report


Tony Blair's Palestine
[ News Report]  [2008-04-09 14:01:09]
[Source: Middle East online - 05/04/08]


First Published 2008-04-05

Attempts to destroy Hamas - whether politically or physically - have not worked and cannot work. The Americans and Europeans committed a major error in conspiring to destroy the Fatah-Hamas national unity government, says Chris Patten.


LONDON—Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has many positive attributes, including great charm. He will need all his skills to address the bewildering range of global tasks that he has taken on since being shoehorned out of office by his dour successor, Gordon Brown.

His initial daytime job, after running Britain, was to bring peace to the Middle East by helping establish the governing institutions of a Palestinian state.

Since then, Blair has become an adviser to banks (which need all the advice they can get these days), is touring the world to promote a sensible policy on global warming and climate change, has created a foundation to help bridge the divide between different faiths, and will lecture on religion at Yale. All that is left is to restore the fortunes of England's national football and cricket teams. Perhaps he could fit that in on weekends.

But Blair has just made a useful comment on Palestine and Israel, which deserves to be taken seriously. Throughout the long years of this bloody tragedy, we have tried to inch our way to a settlement through confidence-building measures or, in the case of the long dead "road map," through pushing both parties to take parallel steps toward an agreement. Some observers, not least hard-headed Israeli peace campaigners, have suggested a different approach.

You will never succeed, they say, if you try to bob and weave your way slowly toward an end game. Instead, you should jump straight into a final deal. And, since you won't get the two sides to agree to it, you'll have to impose it from the outside.

But that ambitious outcome is easier described than achieved. While Israeli public opinion has usually appeared to run well ahead of its political leaders in the approach to peace, it is difficult to see how one could act over their heads. They need to be pushed and shoved into a successful negotiation. What would it mean to go straight to Palestinian statehood?

Presumably, Blair is not proposing to the Palestinians the creation of a state before an agreement is reached on final borders. There cannot be a Palestinian state without dealing with West Bank settlements. If you don't believe me, just visit the West Bank and see, for example, how the proposed suburban Israeli development of East Jerusalem stabs through the heart of Palestinian territory toward the Dead Sea. How can you have a viable state carved up by fences, military roads, and barbed wire?

Any Palestinian state should be within the 1967 borders (as adjusted through negotiation). Peace activists on both sides solved that in the Geneva initiative. Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak came close to doing so at Camp David almost eight years ago.

Moreover, a Palestinian state would not only comprise the West Bank and Gaza, but presumably would also have to accommodate the principal political parties in each area. Attempts to destroy Hamas — whether politically or physically — have not worked and cannot work. The Americans and Europeans committed a major error in conspiring to destroy the Fatah-Hamas national unity government, which was created largely thanks to the diplomacy of Saudi Arabia and other Arab League countries.

I hope that Blair is saying that to his American friends. His greatest achievement was the peace deal in Northern Ireland. That historic triumph depended on bringing in Sinn Fein politicians — leaders of the Irish Republican movement who in many cases could not be distinguished from the IRA, which bombed, shot, and maimed civilians in pursuit of its political goals.

Why should what worked in Northern Ireland — indeed, what was pressed on Britain by the United States — be unthinkable in the Middle East? Are we in the West guilty of double standards yet again?

I abhor any and every terrorist act, by Hamas or anyone else. I have had friends killed by terrorists. But since when were sentiment and moral denunciation sufficient ingredients of a policy? And when did a disproportionate military response to terrorism ever work?

The third challenge in establishing a Palestinian state is to create the institutions of statehood: Hospitals, ports, airports, roads, courts, police stations, tax offices, and government archives. When I was a European commissioner, we provided funds from European taxpayers to pay for these things. Then we saw them systematically trashed by Israel's response to the second Intifada.

How did destroying driving licenses in Palestine preserve Israeli security? How was it preserved by digging up runways, uprooting olive trees, and fouling wells?

A Palestinian state will need to be built from the bottom up. And what is built should not be destroyed.

I want to see — and I'm sure Blair does, too — a peaceful Palestinian state next door to a secure Israel in a region united in prosperity and stability.

Maybe Blair has hit on how this can be achieved. But he should dwell upon the implications of such an approach between board meetings, lectures, and photo calls.

Chris Patten is a former governor of Hong Kong and European commissioner for external affairs. He is currently chancellor of Oxford University and co-chair of the International Crisis Group. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service and can be accessed at GCNews. It originally appeared in Arab News.

 





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