What more appropriate neutral mediator could there be than a retired lapdog to Bush?
Mideast Quartet poised to name Blair envoy
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | 6:06 AM ET
Representatives from the Quartet of Mideast negotiators met Tuesday amid speculation that outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair could get a new role in reviving the stalled peace process.
The meeting of the envoys from the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia marked the Quartet's first gathering since the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by force two weeks ago.
The Quartet is expected to name Blair as a senior envoy to the region, media reports quoting unnamed diplomats as saying.
Blair is stepping down Wednesday after more than a decade in office, with new Labour Leader Gordon Brown set to assume the premiership.
A spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Israel, Karen Kaufman, would not confirm the reports.
Earlier this week, Blair deflected speculation about his next role upon leaving office, but left the door open to getting more involved in the peace process.
"Anybody who cares about greater peace and stability in the world knows that a lasting an enduring resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is essential," Blair told reporters.
"As I've said on many occasions, I would do whatever I could to help such a resolution come about."
Olmert pledges to free 250 prisoners
The Quartet envoys have "no set agenda" and will discuss "recent developments and the way forward," said a local spokesman for the United Nations, Brenden Varma.
During Monday's Mideast summit at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to release 250 Fatah prisoners, a gesture of support to the Palestinian president in his struggle against his Hamas rivals.
The move came after Abbas dissolved a three-month-old Hamas-led coalition government and then appointed an emergency Palestinian cabinet in the West Bank on June 17.
The leaders committed to work for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that have remained effectively frozen since 2001.