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By Lucky Gold
Losing hope in the concept of two states
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was in Jerusalem on Monday, joining the effort to revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. It won’t be easy.
“I’m worried and frustrated, too,” said Blair. “We’ve managed to keep this whole process from collapsing but that’s not the same thing as getting it moving.”
Appearing on Amanpour, Blair warned that if the process does collapse, “the consequences are really serious. It’s not just a question of disorder and instability – although that’s always a risk – it’s also that people end up losing hope in the concept of two states.”
It’s going to happen; the only question is how it happens
Turning to Israel’s troubled neighbor, Syria, Blair expressed the belief that the Assad regime “knows that its days are numbered.” However, he also acknowledged that Assad and his government have retained their iron grip on the country. So how to end the violence and convince Assad to step down?
“I think you’ve got to do a combination of things,” said Blair. “I think you’ve obviously got to carry on trying to get Security Council consensus. But you’ve also got to be taking the moves, creating secure areas is one option, where the regime knows we’re not giving up and going way. So, it’s going to happen; the only question is how it happens.”
Democracy is not just a way of voting; it’s a way of thinking
Another of Israel’s neighbors is Egypt, and Blair addressed the changes there, now that Mohamed Morsi is its newly elected president: “I think what’s important in Egypt is that we engage with the new president and the government there, especially on the economy.”
Stressing the point, he asked: “How do they get their economy moving? How do they get young people with jobs, with some prospects, some opportunity? How do they revive their tourism industry? How do they get some strength back into the private sector?”
Encouraged by direct aid from other nations, the answers to those questions, he said, would have to be found by the Egyptians themselves – not only economically but politically: “One of the issues is going to be how do the more secular-minded people in this region start to organize themselves and start to get their politics in shape so that they can have a decent platform and program?”
“Democracy,” he added, “is not just a way of voting; it’s a way of thinking.”
You come to a big choice and either way is ugly
Lastly, he turned his attention to Iran – perhaps the greatest potential threat to Israel’s security. When asked if diplomacy can forestall or prevent an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, he said that current economic sanctions were having an effect, “but part of the trouble with politics today – and you can see this about the euro in Europe – is that you come to a big choice and either way is ugly.”
As if to illustrate that “big choice,” he said “the thought of a military intervention in Iran is very problematic, very unpredictable. Heaven knows what consequences flow from that.”
At the same time, “You’re Israel, you’re sitting here, you’ve got a country that wants to acquire a nuclear bomb and says that you basically shouldn’t exist as a state.”
Speaking personally, Blair said “I think Iran with a nuclear bomb is not something we should contemplate.”
CNN’s Juliet Fuisz produced this piece for television.