Tony Blair had “no credibility” left with the parties in the Middle East peace process, a former US government official who was closely involved with trying to revive the talks last year has told the British-based newspaper The Telegraph.
“Frankly all sides just rolled their eyes at the mention of his name,” the official said as it was reported that Mr Blair was being “eased out” of his role as head of so-called Quartet.
Rumours that Mr Blair was being asked to step down have been circulating for some days, but were apparently confirmed on Sunday night by The Financial Times. Mr Blair’s office has declined to comment.
In his role, which he took up in 2007, Mr Blair represented the United States of America, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union as a Middle East peace envoy working with the Palestinians.
But in the last round of failed negotiations which began after John Kerry took over as US secretary of state 2013 and broke down last year, Mr Blair had become “a standing joke”, the official said, speaking last week.
Officially the Obama administration has been supportive of Mr Blair, with officials describing him on Sunday as a “valued partner in trying to bring peace to the Middle East” but in private the former officials was scathing.
“He showed up, but was not effective,” the senior former official added. “Honestly, when the Kerry negotiations were going on, it was like he’d wait until Kerry was going to be in the region and show up at the same time and then do press releases. It was sort of unseemly.”
“In the end the Israelis didn’t mind him, because he was heavily tilted towards them, but the Palestinians couldn’t stand him and most of the rest of the peace-making community and other groups included, just rolled their eyes.
“Of course people met with him – he’s the former British prime minister and head of the Quartet – but beyond the media, there’s was really nothing much doing.”
Another diplomat, speaking to the FT, said Mr Blair’s departure as Quartet envoy was “long overdue”.
“He has been ineffective in this job. He has no credibility in this part of the world,” the source said.
Mr Blair has been under fire for some time, with three former British ambassadors last year backing a campaign for him to be sacked and accusing him of trying to “absolve himself” of responsibility for the crisis in Iraq.
This article by Peter Foster originally appeared in The Telegraph