Blair On Middle East Peace Talks: ‘You’ll Never Get The Most Optimal Context…So Let’s Get It Going’

This Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Israel for her first official visit since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was sworn in. Her visit comes at a time when the Middle East peace dialogue appears to have stalled. Clinton “aims to push forward the discussions with Israel and the Palestinians about agreeing to a framework for negotiations.”

In an interview with ThinkProgress today, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair — who previously served as a Middle East envoy — said, “I just think the essential thing is to get the negotiations underway. You’ll never get the most optimal context. … It’ll never be perfect, so let’s get it going.” Blair also emphasized the need to show “real changes on the ground.”

Rather than embrace final-status negotiations for a two-state solution in the Middle East, Netanyahu has recently suggested the idea of forging an “economic peace” with Palestinians. Blair told us this idea isn’t practical because economic issues must be coupled with political progress:

You’ve got to have the political and the economic and the security. But however, having said that, the economics — provided it’s not separated out from the politics or the security — the economics can play a part. The West Bank economy at the moment is growing pretty strongly. … So it’s not all bad news, but you need the political context.


Watch it:

The Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo asked Blair about the UK experience with community schools. Blair, who was at the Center for American Progress today to discuss how to improve student outcomes, emphasized that the longer hours and valuable services provided by community schools could mean they are “the wave of the future.”