UN envoy Bair: solving Palestinian issue key to Arab-Israeli alliance on ISIS

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that progress on the Palestinian issue is key to forging an alliance between Israel and Arab states against rising threats they have in common.

Blair, who served as prime minister in 1997-2007 and as international envoy to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, said this on Tuesday during a speech in Brussels at an event organized by the European Jewish Congress to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

“If you go to the capitals of the Middle East region, you will find the same analyses of the threat, and the same desire to overcome them,” said Blair, who currently works for the of the office of the Quartet Representative – a platform set up by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The reality he described, Blair said, forms the basis for his work to realize “the potential for alliance between the State of Israel and its Arab neighbors.”

But, Blair added, “the key of course to that alliance, as we know, is progress on the Palestinian issue and we know that this is difficult.” But out of crises such as the growth of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, Blair added, “come opportunities that during this long process of transition in the Middle East there is the genuine possibility of changing the way that people think and of reaching a situation where Israel is accepted and recognized.”

Separately, the European Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday announced a partnership during EJC’s General Assembly meeting in the Belgian capital. The new partnership will ”heighten ADL’s relations with European Jewish communities at a time when rising anti-Semitism and security are of paramount concern,” ADL wrote in a statement Wednesday.

Also during the General Assembly, EJC honored Liviu Dragnea, a Romanian politician and former minister for his efforts to combat Holocaust denial and other forms of intolerance through legislation. EJC President Moshe Kantor presented Dragnea with the Compass of Jerusalem award, which EJC has conferred in the past on European Parliament President Martin Schulz and several European prime ministers.

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