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Sir Tony Blair, a former British prime minister, has indicated that he would be willing to take on a humanitarian role in Gaza if there was a realistic prospect of changing the course of events in the enclave.
According to reports in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, hoped to appoint Blair as a “humanitarian coordinator” in Gaza, building on the former British prime minister’s experience in the region.
Blair, a former international envoy to the Middle East, has not been offered a job, his office said. But his allies said he would consider playing a humanitarian role if he believed he could make a real difference.
“As you know, Mr Blair has an office in Israel and continues to work on issues affecting Israel and the Palestinians,” a Blair spokeswoman said.
“He is obviously discussing the situation with a number of people in the area and elsewhere to see what can be done. But no ‘role’ is offered or accepted.”
Privately, Mr Blair’s colleagues said he would only consider a role “if there was a real opportunity for a change of course on the humanitarian side”. One added: “Nothing has been discussed or decided yet.”
The Times of Israel cited reports According to Ynet news agency, Netanyahu believed Blair could improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza and reduce international pressure on Israel as it continued its offensive against Hamas.
Ynet, citing unnamed senior officials, said Netanyahu hoped to use Blair’s experience in the region to allay international concerns about the humanitarian situation.
Blair’s refusal to rule out any involvement in the crisis will cause outrage in Britain, where he remains a controversial figure due to his decision to drag the UK into the Iraq War in 2003.
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After leaving Downing Street in 2007, he became Middle East envoy for the Middle East Quartet, a grouping made up of the US, EU, UN and Russia, and set up an office in East Jerusalem.
Blair was involved in trying to improve local economic conditions for Palestinians and maintain the possibility of a possible two-state solution. He stepped down from this role in 2015.
He now runs a successful global consultancy and think tank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, and maintains an office in Jerusalem.
Blair’s post-Downing Street activities have long drawn criticism. In an interview with the Financial Times in September, he confirmed that he was and is still advising the Saudi government despite the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
He didn’t apologize. “For me, the challenge is always, ‘Is leadership trying to do things that we believe are useful and valuable?'” he said. “If so, we will support them.”