Arab peace plan 'not dead' despite Gaza war: Blair
Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said on Sunday that an Arab initiative for peace in the region was "not dead" despite Israel's lethal 22-day war on the Gaza Strip.
"The Arab peace initiative is not dead unless we make it so," Blair said in Riyadh, where he held talks with Saudi King Abdullah, a key force behind the initiative, late Saturday.
Rather than create new obstacles, the Israeli war on the impoverished enclave ruled by the Hamas Islamist movement could be used to bolster the overall Middle East peace process, Blair indicated.
Israel's unilateral ceasefire, which took effect early on Sunday, was "fragile now in the short-term, never mind the long-term," said the former British prime minister.
But "it is only going to endure if we adopt a strategy which revitalises the whole peace process," he said.
Blair was referring to a Saudi-inspired peace plan presented at an Arab summit in Beirut in 2002, and relaunched at a Riyadh summit in 2007.
The initiative calls for a full normalisation of relations between Arab states and Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal by Israel from Arab land, the creation of a Palestinian state and an "equitable" solution for Palestinian refugees.
Asked about the role of Hamas, Blair stressed the need for it to reconcile with other Palestinian groups, particularly the Fatah faction of Palestinian president, which controls the West Bank.
"The only way forward is on the basis of Palestinian unity. But it's got to be on the right terms" consistent with the Arab initiative and the two-state solution, he stressed.
Blair arrived in Riyadh on Sunday and had a one-hour meeting with King Abdullah to discuss how to proceed on the broader peace process, help rebuild Gaza and address immediate humanitarian needs.