Mideast Envoy Tony Blair Working to Avoid 'Showdown' Over Palestinian Statehood


"When I'm there on the West Bank, I see what this American money actually does," said Blair, who says he has traveled to the region 71 times since leaving office. "And it provides support for security, on the Palestinian side, for institutions and for the economy, which is hugely important to ... trying to build the state from the bottom up."

Former President Bill Clinton echoed Blair's concern, saying while there's "a lot of frustration around this issue," he does not support calls for Congress to cut off Palestinian security funding.

"I think that everybody knows the U.S. Congress is the most pro-Israel parliamentary body in the world. They don't have to demonstrate that," Clinton said. "I think as this unfolds, the worst thing we could do is to tie the administration's hands."

Clinton agreed with Blair that reviving a framework for peace negotiations was the only way to avert a showdown at the United Nations over statehood, which he called "an act of frustration on the part of the Palestinians."

"The American government has agreed with Israel that there's no way the U.N. can impose a peace plan, and therefore the peace plan has to be the subject of negotiations," Clinton said. "We're going to stick by Israel and its security, but we need to give them the ability to bring the Palestinians back into a negotiated position."

"It might be good politics for the Palestinians with their people and the Israelis with theirs to have this standoff, but the most important thing is to have good-faith negotiations," Clinton added.

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