Blair: I am unaware of secret 2011 Peres-Abbas deal

Blair: I am unaware of secret 2011 Peres-Abbas deal

Quartet's envoy does not confirm president's revelation, says sides now lack the 'necessary trust' to advance peace

Former British prime minister Tony Blair. (AP/Matt Rourke)
Former British prime minister Tony Blair. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said Wednesday that he was unaware of a covert 2011 draft peace agreement between President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — which Peres said had been torpedoed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Parts of this I don’t know about at all,” Blair said in an interview with Channel 2. “If they were able to reach agreement that’s great…I think what President Peres was keen to do was find a way forward with President Abbas.”

Speaking to Channel 2 news Tuesday, Peres said that he and Abbas had essentially reached a draft agreement on “almost all issues” and that an accord was being readied, after a series of secret meetings in Jordan.

As Israel and the Palestinians entered an open-ended hiatus in peace negotiations, Blair emphasized in the interview that it was important to maintain stability in the region and prevent the situation from spiraling downward into open conflict.

Blair said it was crucial to avoid another “intifada” or armed Palestinian uprising.

“If you look back on the last intifada it took us a very long time to get back to a proper place [of negotiations] and lots of people died during the course of it,” he said.

US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which began last summer, ended abruptly in April without an agreement. Israel suspended further negotiations over the unity agreement between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas reached two weeks ago.

Blair said he hoped to “find a way back to negotiations” but admitted that a break in peace talks was seemingly unavoidable at this point in time.

“We’re going to have to take stock whether we like it or not,” he said. “There is common ground. What there isn’t, I’m afraid, are the levels of necessary trust [between the sides].”

Blair maintained that he remained optimistic on the prospects of eventually reaching an accord.

“I think reason ultimately prevails,” he said.

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