Hi High Toniness, fresh from completing what will turn out to be a seedy list of peerages to end his scarred reign as PM, is off to the Middle East.
I commented at Istanbultory and Ellee's place, that I thought this was a charade and he was meant to fail; hence his appointment. Some people disagreed with me and I wanted to make a further couple of points on the matter.
Firstly, I am racially Jewish and feel a great sense of warmth to Israel, a place I have visited several times, along with Egypt and Jordan. I am no Middle East expert, but did study for a masters degree in international relations.
My heart is torn by the current Isreali position, backed by George Bush, of unilateralism. This policy resulted in the failure of the war in Lebanon and the more successful resistance to the second intifada.
However, the policy is undoubtedly expansionist. Today, Peace Now, an Israeli anti-war group, released their study of the latest Israeli plans for the West Bank. To me these seem nothing short of outrageous. The plan is for hundreds of thousands of settlers in the West Bank. Not only that but they assume control of the key water resources and centres of economic activity.
I can't see how these gains will be acceptable to a Palestinian Government. However, Israel must be gleeful at the break with Hamas and Fatah that has divided their enemy. Hamas is a vicious terrorist organisation and Fatah a despotic and unpopular party. Neither would agree with Israel or has the power to do so.
Into this situation flies Mr Blair, with little chance of success. His record in fighting a war against Iraq also ruins his credibility with key external Arabic influencers such as Saudi, Syria and also Iran (which after all is the state sponsor to the Hezbollah terrorists).
From all this a pattern is clear. Not one that I think will lead to a peace deal in Northern Ireland style terms. Instead the Israeli hawks survey the political divides and wreckage around them and are contemplating the permanent expansion of their highly armed state. This leaves no viable state for the Palestinians without which I can see no long-term Middle East peace settlement. The US effectively is backing this policy in lieu of a credible alternative.