Tony Blair Says Agreement 'Doable'

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - In a weekend interview with Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz, former British prime minister and EU envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair said the Arab's view of peace is "very close to what Israel is wanting."

"I spend a lot of time talking to Arabs," Blair said. "I have a genuine belief -- and this is not shared with everyone in Israel -- [that] the Arabs genuinely want this [peace] settled now," he said.

Blair bases his assessment on the Arab world's desire to trade in the global market, while Islam's ideology for world domination doesn't factor into the equation for the former British prime minister.

"There are Arab leaders talking to me recently about the type of settlement…they would accept, [and] I would say it is very close to what Israel is wanting…on some of the most sensitive questions," Blair said.

These Arab leaders "want to be on the cutting edge of globalization. They want to be 21st century economies. And they realize their politics and their culture have got to start coming into sync with their economies," said Blair.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would agree with Blair's assessment, based on his relationship with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"Anyone who would have walked in on the meeting between me and [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas would not have believed there was a conflict," the prime minister said, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

While more than half of mainstream Israelis are hoping that general elections will soon be a viable option, Olmert says he has the support of the Israeli public.

Meanwhile, "secret meetings" between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, led by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia respectively, are continuing on a weekly basis.

On Sunday, Qureia said discussions with Israelis centered on "the most difficult issues," which included "Jerusalem, the refugees, the borders and the settlements."

Though PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Reuters it's unlikely a final status arrangement will be reached in 2008, Blair believes with enough "urgency, focus, determination and strategy," it's "doable."

Daily Kassam rocket attacks on the western Negev, explosives manufacturing facilities uncovered in the IDF's [Israel Defense Forces] counter-terror operations in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), promises of a renewed wave of suicide bombings against the Jewish "occupiers" notwithstanding, Tony Blair says the Arab's view of peace is close to Israel's.

And even though PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad don't recognize Israel's right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state, and official PA documents depict one state -- Palestine -- imposed on the map of Israel, from Tony Blair's point of view, it's all "doable."

What exactly does that mean?

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Tzippe Barrow

CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau

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