Tony Blair is in Israel holding meetings this week with Israeli and Palestinian leaders (separately, of course):
The centerpiece of Blair’s visit is his initiative for a conference in London focused on strengthening the new Palestinian leadership. Sharon said Tuesday that Israel will support the conference but will not attend. He said the conference is meant to influence the promotion of reforms in the PA, and to consolidate support for a sweeping plan to rehabilitate Gaza and the Palestinian economy.
Analysts are saying that Blair sees an opportunity with Arafat’s death and is trying to capitalize on it.
Blair sees an opportunity alright… but it has nothing to do with helping the Palestinians, and everything to do with his own political career.
Ever since Blair cast his lot with Bush by joining the campaign in Iraq, his political stock among Europeans and a good number of Britons has plummeted. The Israeli-Palestinian issue is his pet project to try to score back some brownie points.
And while he seems to be proceeding cautiously for the moment, I can’t help but think that Blair is wading into waters that are much too deep for him. I only hope the Israeli people don’t pay the price.