Tony Blair has said the Palestinians need a “fundamental shift in strategy” if they are ever to achieve statehood, arguing that sympathy votes don’t win sovereignty.
The former British PM, who now chairs the Institute for Global Change, penned his thoughts in an opinion piece for Project Syndicate this week.
“The Palestinians don’t need a strategy for sympathy, they need a strategy for statehood, and their current path will not lead them to it,” Blair said.
“The resolutions, gestures of support, and rhetorical expressions of solidarity showered upon the Palestinians are the cheapest currency of international diplomacy. In the real world they buy next to nothing.”
In 2015 Blair resigned as Middle East Peace Envoy to the Quartet – the US, EU, UN and Russia – arguing this week that critics Donald Trump’s long-delayed plan for Israel and the Palestinians, published on 28 January, were entirely predictable.
Trump’s plan envisages no settlements being demolished, Jerusalem remaining united under Israeli sovereignty, and a Palestinian state only after specific pre-conditions had been met. The Palestinians and Arab states rejected it outright.
Yet Blair said deep splits among the Palestinians were the major barrier, saying: “Even in an ideal environment, how could any negotiation succeed, given the current disarray in Palestinian politics?”
Blair said: “A Palestinian state would comprise Gaza and the West Bank. The former is under the control of Hamas, an organisation still formally committed to the destruction of Israel. The latter is controlled by Fatah, itself deeply split.
“Hamas and Fatah fiercely oppose each other; their reconciliation talks are a monument to mutual insincerity. And there has not been a democratic election for 14 years, leaving no reliable way to gauge the popular authority of the government in Ramallah. It is inconceivable that such fragmented politics could yield a credible agreement for a state.”
On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations that the Palestinian state proposed by Trump was a “Swiss cheese,” adding: “This deal carries within it diktats, reinforcements of the occupation, annexation by military force and anchoring of an apartheid system.”