Peter Hoskin

Is Blair eclipsing Brown in Israel?

Is Blair eclipsing Brown in Israel?
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I’ve just returned from Israel, but the issues have followed me to London. Tomorrow the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee convenes in the capital, to discuss the Palestinian situation.

Gordon Brown’s expected to speak at the event, but – as I understand it – Tony Blair will be hovering around as well, in his capacity as Middle East envoy.  Who – if either – will commandeer the limelight, I wonder?  

Whilst I was in Israel, not one person had a bad word to say about Blair – the consensus being that he’s doing a lot to promote economic development and peace in the Palestinian territories. I asked Olmert’s spokesman what the Israeli government thought of Brown, by comparison.  A diplomatic response – "the prime minster sees Brown as an important friend”. Former finance ministers of the world unite, I guess.

But others were less kind about Brown. Another well-placed source suggested that Israelis are disappointed by his (lack-of) involvement in the region, and that they still regard Blair as their British go-to guy. There’s also some consternation that our Dear Leader hasn’t yet confirmed his attendance at the 60th anniversary celebrations in Israel next week. Maybe tomorrow’s his chance to make amends.

Anyway, I’ll do my best to keep CoffeeHousers up-to-date with it all. In the meantime, I’d recommend you read – and comment on – Melanie Phillip’s cover article for the latest issue of the magazine: ‘Happy 60th Birthday Israel: well done for surviving’.