The Daily Telegraph reports:
Tony Blair’s future as Middle East peace envoy was in jeopardy after the Palestinian Authority said it was set to sever all contact with him because of his “bias” towards Israel.
The senior echelons of the Palestine Liberation Organisation are expected to meet in the coming days to discuss a proposal to declare Mr Blair persona non grata, officials said.
Predicting unanimous support for the motion from the entire Palestinian leadership, they said the intention was to isolate the former prime minister to such an extent that his position would become untenable.
Mr Blair has been viewed with an element of distrust by some Palestinians ever since his appointment as the envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East – the mediating body comprising the United States, the EU, the UN and Russia – on the day he left Downing Street in June 2007.
But antagonism has mounted over allegations that he lobbied European powers to vote against a Palestinian bid for statehood submitted to the United Nations in New York last week. “We have been extremely unhappy and dissatisfied with Mr Blair’s performance since he became envoy, but particularly in the past few weeks,” a senior Palestinian official said.
However, The Independent reports:
The Palestinian Authority has denied it plans to make a formal request to remove Tony Blair from his position as a Middle East envoy.
The former Prime Minister has held the position of special envoy for the Quartet, made up of the US, Russia, the EU and UN, for four years. However, some Palestinians believe he is biased towards the Israelis.
A spokesman for the PA said while there was great unhappiness with Mr Blair’s role as envoy, his removal was not a priority. He added there were no plans to formally ask for Mr Blair to be replaced. The Security Council is currently considering the request by the Palestinians for statehood, although the US has said it will use its position as a permanent member of the council to veto the bid. Mr Blair has said he was not against the Palestinians’ UN status being upgraded, possibly to non-member state. But he said such a move should be made alongside a return to negotiations.