The Middle-East envoy Tony Blair has told the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he will focus on “practical steps” to try to build confidence in the peacemaking process. The former UK premier is in Israel as part of a tour of the Middle-East as envoy of the so-called Quartet – America, the EU, Russia and the UN – with a limited mandate on economic development and building Palestinian institutions in the West Bank.
Olmert, and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have held regular meetings in recent months, though Israel only wants to talk about general principles. The moderate Fatah leader hopes Blair will use his influence to persuade Israel to enter more detailed talks on a Palestinian state, before a US sponsored conference scheduled for November.
Israel’s Supreme Court has delivered an embarrassing blow to the government, over a controversial barrier between Israel and the West Bank. The court ruled in favour of villagers in Bil’in, who’d argued that the barrier stopped them accessing their fields and orchards. Now planners have to re-route the fence-line.