Tony Blair has stepped down as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, and there is a possibility that no one will be named to replace him since there really is not much to do except travel and rack up hotel bills.
The London Daily Record headlined his announcement with:
Tony Blair’s greatest achievement after six years as special envoy to the Middle East? Both sides detest him
Our own headline above actually is a bit misleading, because there really are plenty of people who care that he has quit, mainly the British taxpayers.
Blair is a multi-millionaire many times over. He does not receive a salary as envoy but his perks are enough to keep anyone in the pink forever.
He has flown more than 100 times since he took up the post as Quartet envoy in 2007 and has stayed with his 12-person entourage at a Jerusalem five-star hotel for approximately $1.5 million a year, the Record reported.
He and his staff have a penthouse office in eastern Jerusalem on a road known as Millionaires’ Row.
The Quartet consisting of Britain, the United States, the United Nations and Russia, has been paying $3 million a year for the privilege of letting Blair pretend he is busy.
He has been under constant criticism for doing little except occupying his office one week a month, and his knowledge of the Middle East does not go much beyond the fact that his wife’s half-sister Sarah Jane Booth converted to Islam after a “spiritual” experience in Iran.
U.S. State Dept, Jeff Rathke had a difficult time on Wednesday explaining to nosy reporters exactly what he has done for the Quartet, one of the brainstorms of the American government.
Tony Blair has been a valued partner and friend in our effort to bring peace to the Middle East, and as Quartet representative, he’s worked tirelessly and passionately to advance economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza over the past eight years.
What role is there for the Quartet in any kind of future negotiations?” asked one journalist, to which Rathke responded with a long answer that in one word said, “Nothing.”
In his words:
The Quartet plays an important role in keeping the partners – the EU, Russia, UN, the United States – engaged, up to date, and supporting the goal of the two-state solution…. But certainly we think the Quartet is an important format to support, work toward an Israeli – solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee persisted and asked, “But when you say that it plays an important role, surely you have some kind of reason to say that. Right?”
Rathke turned on the tape recorder and stated:
As I said, the members of the Quartet all have important roles to play. The Quartet brings them together, allows them to share views.
But can Rathke “name a single accomplishment that the Quartet [since 2002] has – I mean, they presented – they came up with George Mitchell and the roadmap, but it was never implemented. I mean, what exactly has the Quartet done to further the cause of a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians?”
Here is his non-answer:
Until the goal of a two-state solution has been achieved, then you can’t say that there’s been success…. We think it’s important that the Quartet exists and that the Quartet brings together key parties to support the negotiation process and the outcome we all desire.
Wait a minute, If it is “important that the Quarter exists” then who will replace Blair?
I’m not aware of current plans to replace Tony Blair as Quartet representative.
But didn’t he say it is an important position?