Friday, 20 September 2019 01:49 GMT

Tony Blair steps down as Middle East peace envoy

(MENAFN - The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) International Middle East peace mediators known as the Quartet confirmed Wednesday that former British prime minister Tony Blair resigned as their special envoy.

"As the Quartet's envoy on the ground during the last eight years, Mr. Blair demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace and made lasting contributions to the effort to promote economic growth and improve daily life in the West Bank and Gaza," said a statement issued from UN headquarters in New York.

Blair, who has carved out a lucrative career as an adviser since leaving Downing Street in 2007, is said to have felt "constrained" by a role restricted to supporting Palestinians' economic development, according to media reports.

"He remains fully committed to assisting the international community in its work with Israel and the Palestinians to bring about progress on the two-state solution," a source close to Blair said.

He will see out his duties representing the US, Russia, the UN and the EU before stepping down next month, the source added.

The Mideast peace process continues to limp along, and direct peace talks remain deadlocked amid Israel's unilateral settlement-building policies in occupied lands and Palestinians' efforts on international recognition of their statehood.

The former Labour leader, who served as prime minister for 10 years, believes an "entirely new approach" is needed to securing a two-state solution in the Middle East, the source said, suggesting Blair would concentrate on Israel's relations with the wider Arab world to end the "ongoing impasse in the peace process."

In a recent trip to Gaza, Blair laid out three preconditions for a successful peace process - improving the lives of Palestinians; creating a sovereign Palestinian state and a regionally-accepted Israel; and increasing pressure on neighboring states to lead the peace process alongside the international community.

"The Quartet thanks Mr. Blair for his remarkable service and reaffirms its commitment to advancing peace and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians," read the group's statement.

Tony Blair steps down as Middle East peace envoy

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