Clash: Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected Blair's draft proposals to end the peace process stalemate
Tony Blair’s job as a Middle East peace envoy is in jeopardy after officials in the Palestinian Authority accused him of acting like an ‘extreme’ Israeli diplomat.
Senior figures in the Palestine Liberation Organisation are reported to be planning to sever all contact with the former prime minister.
They described Mr Blair as ‘persona non grata’ and said they were looking to isolate the former PM so his position became untenable on the international stage.
Mr Blair has been viewed with an element of distrust by some Palestinians ever since his appointment as the envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East – the mediating body comprising the United States, the EU, the UN and Russia.
He was handed the job the day he left Downing Street in June 2007. But antagonism has mounted over allegations that he lobbied European powers to vote against a Palestinian bid for statehood which was submitted to the UN last week.
One senior Palestinian official told the Daily Mail yesterday: ‘He does not represent the international community but works according to his own opinion, which he shares with the more extreme Israelis. We see him as an Israeli diplomat.
A man apart: Tony Blair with fellow members of the Quartet of the Middle East and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (centre) this week. From left, Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU commissioner Catherine Ashton‘We will not be unhappy to see his back but when he leaves is something for the Quartet to decide.’
Another added: ‘There is no one within the Palestinian leadership that supports or likes or trusts Tony Blair, particularly because of the very damaging role he played during our UN bid.
‘He is considered persona non grata in Palestine. Although we can’t prevent him from coming here, we can hopefully minimise the role he can play because he is not a mediator, he is totally biased on one side.’
Mr Blair has been based between London and the luxurious American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem since leaving 10 Downing Street in 2007.
A storm of suspicion and disapproval has been building among Palestinians since his first days in the region. Many were surprised and disappointed when he failed to speak out against Israel’s invasion of Gaza in January 2009, which left as many as 1,417 Palestinians dead.
Anger: Blair's failure to address Israel's continuing building of settlements in the West Bank was key to his draft proposal being rejected
Labour MP Paul Flynn said: ‘There is no question in my mind that Tony Blair is incredibly sympathetic to the Israeli cause and throughout his time as an envoy there has been a question mark about whether he fully understands the position of the Arab countries.
‘He is not the honest broker that he pretends to be.’
A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority said its negotiators often talked to people they did not like.
A spokesman for Mr Blair insisted he had no plans to leave the Middle East, adding: ‘He is there for the long term, as he has been from day one.’