Tony Blair to Arab Countries: Support Obama Initiative
International Quartet envoy Tony Blair told Arab countries to support U.S. President Barack Obama's peace initiative for the Mideast region. At a conference in Oslo for donor countries to PA Arabs, Blair said that Quartet members need the support of Arab countries in the peace process and the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority.
Norway called on countries who donate to PA Arabs to fulfill their pledges to support the Palestinian Authority. Donor countries obligated themselves to transmit to the PA 12 billion dollars in the last few years. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the delegates that the funds do not reach the PA.
Middle East envoy Tony Blair said after the Oslo meeting that Obama's push for a peace deal should be embraced by Arab states. "For the Arab countries in particular we need their support...," Blair said. "We need their support for the Palestinian Authority, their support for the peace process, their support in coming to a new ... understanding about how we can establish peace in the Middle East. "President Obama needs something to come back to him. He's reaching out but he needs people to reach back and I think the next few months is all about seeing whether we can create the circumstances where that happens," he told Reuters.
Netanyahu has said he is ready to meet Abbas and begin talks on economic, security and political issues, which he has not specified. Palestinians have rejected his proposed shift of focus away from territorial issues, whose complexity, Netanyahu has said, has frustrated U.S.-backed attempts to reach a final peace deal. Abbas said renewed talks would be pointless unless Netanyahu first stopped settlement activity and endorsed Palestinian statehood as part of a 2003 peace "road map" that also calls on the Palestinian Authority to crack down on militants. "If Israel rejects this and rejects the two-state solution, then, what shall we negotiate?" Abbas asked during a visit to a school in the West Bank city of Ramallah.