Palestinians said to want Blair out

Sept. 29, 2011 at 3:30 AM
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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Tony Blair is biased toward Israel and should be removed as envoy for the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace brokers, Palestinian officials say.

"He sounds like an Israeli diplomat sometimes," senior Palestinian National Authority negotiator Nabil Shaath told Britain's Daily Telegraph.

Youth wings of the main Palestinian political parties have informally declared the former British prime minister persona non grata in the occupied West Bank and would not meet with him, a Palestine Liberation Organization official told Britain's Independent newspaper.

Palestinian officials say they are particularly upset over allegations Blair -- named the Quartet's special envoy in June 2007 after 10 years as prime minister -- lobbied European powers to vote against the Palestinian Authority's U.N. membership bid 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 told the Telegraph.

Palestinian officials have made no formal request for Blair's dismissal, the Telegraph said.

The Arabic-language al-Quds newspaper in Jerusalem reported Palestinian officials had asked for Blair's dismissal and the Quartet already intended to appoint a new envoy.

"The Palestinian request threatened that the Palestinian side will not accept any sponsorship by the Quartet Committee in the negotiations with Israel [if] ... Blair remains in his position because of his 'clear bias toward the Israeli side at the expense of the Palestinians,'" the article translated into English on the Guido Fawkes British political blog said.

The Palestinian Authority had no immediate independent comment, nor did any Quartet member -- the United States, United Nations, Russia and European Union.

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