Tony Blair steps back onto the international stage later today in his new role as special envoy to the Middle East. The former British Prime Minister will be in Lisbon for a meeting of the Middle East peace quartet to discuss his exact mission in the coming months.
Shoring up the Palestinian Authority, meaning Fatah, and getting aid flowing in is Blair’s overall mandate. Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas is attempting to cement his own power base with early elections. “We call upon the central council to issue a decree for early parliamentary and presidential elections,” Abbas told his party.
But Hamas, which took the most votes last time around, refuses to entertain another election. “The president’s call for early elections is unacceptable, unconstitutional and illegal. Neither Abbas, nor all the powers who support him, can do it,” insisted Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri. Abbas said Hamas had dug its own grave with crimes committed in Gaza and it no longer had any legitimacy.