Corridors of Power: Blair’s Way with Words, Putin’s Way with the Press, and More

Corridors of Power: Blair’s Way with Words, Putin’s Way with the Press, and More

BLAIR'S OPTIMISM -- Thetrouble with Tony Blair is that he's so good with words that you tendto forget the message and just sit back and enjoy the music. Thinkingback on it, though, his report on the state of play in theIsraeli-Palestinian impasse, delivered in Washington to members of theCouncil on Foreign Relations, seemed to offer little concrete evidenceof progress.

The former British prime minister has spent thepast year as the Middle East Quartet's point man in the region. Hisfour-point plan for jump-starting the peace process was clearlyaddressed to the Obama administration. (What isn't, these days?) But toborrow a current Afghan buzz word, there were caveats aplenty. As in: Both the Israelis and the Palestinians "have lost faith in each other'sgood faith;" Gaza "can't stay as it is for another year"; and the Arabworld "has a deep seated cynicism about the process" -- but has shiftedits thinking enough to know that a future for the Palestinians "won'tcome with the destruction of Israel."

A council memberreminded Blair that there is a little problem called the status ofJerusalem. But Blair said he is "confident that if people wanted tofind a way [to solve the issue] they can." Oddly, there was no mentionof the other major stumbling block: the Palestinian claims of a rightof return that Israelis fear would swamp Israel with millions ofreturning Palestinians.

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