In response to concerns over excessive civilian casualties in Gaza, Israel is discussing the possibility of hiring former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to serve as a humanitarian coordinator for the region. The selection of Blair for this role is seen as an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lend legitimacy to Israel’s military campaign and to dampen international calls for a ceasefire.
Blair’s experience as an envoy to Israel and Palestine for the Middle East Quartet has positioned him as a potential candidate for this position. While the exact nature of his role has not been defined, it is expected to focus on providing medical treatment and medicines to the people of Gaza, as well as on the possibility of evacuating the wounded and sick from the area.
Israel has confirmed that discussions with Blair are ongoing and that he is open to the possibility of taking on this role. Blair himself has expressed his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, suggesting that traditional Western diplomacy in the region needs to be rethought in light of the ongoing crisis. He has also acknowledged that the blockade of Gaza, which he previously supported, may have been a mistake and that efforts to engage in dialogue with Hamas should have been made earlier.
However, Blair’s potential appointment as a humanitarian coordinator is not without controversy. His role as a peace envoy for the Quartet in 2007 was met with criticism due to his leadership in the UK’s decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003. A subsequent inquiry into the war found that Blair had disregarded warnings about the risks of military action and had exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. As a result, many in the UK believe that Blair should be tried as a war criminal.
Despite these concerns, the prospect of Blair serving in a humanitarian capacity in Gaza reflects Israel’s efforts to address international criticism of its military campaign. By drawing on Blair’s diplomatic experience, Israel aims to mitigate civilian casualties and demonstrate its commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. However, the potential appointment of a figure with such a controversial history raises questions about the role of international leaders in addressing humanitarian crises and conflicts around the world.