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Tony Blair’s Palestine

LONDON –Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has many positive attributes, including great charm. He will need all his skills to address the bewildering range of global tasks that he has taken on since being shoehorned out of office by his dour successor, Gordon Brown. His initial daytime job, after running Britain, was to bring peace to the Middle East by helping establish the governing institutions of a Palestinian state.

Since then, Blair has become an adviser to banks (which need all the advice they can get these days), is touring the world to promote a sensible policy on global warming and climate change, has created a foundation to help bridge the divide between different faiths, and will lecture on religion at Yale. All that is left is to restore the fortunes of England’s national football and cricket teams. Perhaps he could fit that in on weekends.

But Blair has just made a useful comment on Palestine and Israel, which deserves to be taken seriously. Throughout the long years of this bloody tragedy, we have tried to inch our way to a settlement through confidence-building measures or, in the case of the long dead “Road Map,” through pushing both parties to take parallel steps towards an agreement. Some observers, not least hard-headed Israeli peace campaigners, have suggested a different approach.

You will never succeed, they say, if you try to bob and weave your way slowly towards an end game. Instead, you should jump straight into a final deal. And, since you won’t get the two sides to agree to it, you’ll have to impose it from the outside.