Italian negotiator to step in for Blair as Quartet envoy

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Italian negotiator Fernando Gentilini will be the European Union’s envoy to the Quartet guiding the Middle East peace process.

The appointment of Gentilini as the EU’s special representative to the Middle East, which includes responsibilities as the Quartet envoy, was announced Monday by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels.

The announcement comes a day after the London-based Financial Times reported that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair would step back as the Quartet’s representative to the region, a position he has held for eight years.

“Tony Blair’s responsibility focused on supporting the economic development of Palestinians,” Mogherini told reporters in Brussels. “This is not the main focus we have. The main focus we have is the launch of the peace process.”

The Quartet is a diplomatic grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Gentilini has served as the EU representative to Kosovo.