Tony Blair has been the representative of the Quartet in the Middle East for a few years, but he has been more prominent for his silence than any action on his part. Blair finally came out with blunt remarks concerning the need for negotiation that has meaning in working toward a resolution of the conflict between Palestinians and Israel. “Unless you are dealing with core issues, then the negotiation, I don’t now, what it’s all about. It will be the substance that counts.” He made clear substance included Jerusalem and its relation to a Palestinian state. He also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who continues refusing making a commitment to the two state solution despite strong support for it from the Quartet and public statements by President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton.
Netanyahu may not yet grasp that Bush no longer is in office and the new administration seeks peace. His office responded to Blair by saying, “the Palestinians can bring to the table their concerns, and we will bring to the table our concerns” without preconditions. Unfortunately, the Quartet seeks a solution, not more endless discussions.