Tony Blair has spoken of his optimism on his second day as international peace envoy to the Middle East. The former British prime minister has been presenting an initial plan for building ruling institutions for a future Palestinian state. He has already held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular Fatah faction lost control of Gaza to Hamas militants in a brief civil war last month. Diplomats say Blair’s limited mandate could be expanded into a more peacemaking role between the two parties. But at this stage, Blair says he only intends to “listen, learn and to reflect.”
“There is a sense of possibility,” Blair told a news conference after meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres. “But whether that sense of possibility can be translated into something – that is something that needs to be worked at and thought about over time,” he said. Blair will end the visit to Israel and the West Bank on Wednesday and then travel to the Gulf States before return to the region in September.