Tony Blair was behind Donald Trump’s Middle East peace deal… but agreement already faces criticism

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A new Middle East peace deal that Tony Blair helped broker was criticised last night for offering nothing to Palestine.

Israel signed the landmark deal on Tuesday with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at a ceremony at the White House.

The three countries pledged to normalise relations in a move hailed by US President Donald Trump as the ‘dawn of a new Middle East’.

But there were fears it would not bring peace and only start a new arms race in the region.

Mr Blair was yesterday hailed by an Israeli newspaper as playing a ‘key role’ in the agreements. It was lauded by Washington and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he hoped others would follow its lead.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair waits for the beginning of the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House

Former British prime minister Tony Blair waits for the beginning of the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House

Former British prime minister Tony Blair waits for the beginning of the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House

However, critics said the agreement would only serve the three signatories, plus the US, and offered nothing to end tensions between Israel and Palestine.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Mr Blair was a ‘rockstar’ at the deal signing in Washington DC, adding: ‘People were lining up for photos with him.’

Mr Blair first brokered informal talks between Israel and the UAE in 2015, using his strong relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to get the then-quarrelling sides to sit down in London.

He then helped build trust between the nations over the following years. The former Labour leader praised the agreement which he said was the only path to peace and would eventually be of benefit to the Palestinians.

Critics pointed out the agreement paves the way to a ‘lucrative’ arms deal between the US and the UAE which it wants to sell F-35 jets (pictured) to despite previous objections from Israel

Critics pointed out the agreement paves the way to a ‘lucrative’ arms deal between the US and the UAE which it wants to sell F-35 jets (pictured) to despite previous objections from Israel

Critics pointed out the agreement paves the way to a ‘lucrative’ arms deal between the US and the UAE which it wants to sell F-35 jets (pictured) to despite previous objections from Israel

The deal saw Israel, the UAE and Bahrain agree to open embassies and establish new diplomatic and trade ties, particularly in tourism, technology and energy. It also opened up air spaces between the trio.

The overall goal is to bring peace to the whole of the Middle East by ending tensions between Israel and Palestine. Mr Blair said: ‘I believe in time the Palestinian people will understand that it is only by radically changing strategy that the legitimate aspirations for a viable Palestinian State can be realised.’

Most Arab states have boycotted Israel for decades, insisting they would only establish ties after Israel’s dispute with the Palestinians was settled. But they have been increasingly worried about Iran’s influence in the region and experts say the main focus of the deal was about ‘alignment’ against that regime.

The three countries pledged to normalise relations in a move hailed by US President Donald Trump as the ‘dawn of a new Middle East’

The three countries pledged to normalise relations in a move hailed by US President Donald Trump as the ‘dawn of a new Middle East’

The three countries pledged to normalise relations in a move hailed by US President Donald Trump as the ‘dawn of a new Middle East’

However, critics said the countries who signed the pact were willing to ‘throw Palestine under the bus’ because of fears about Iran and its growing influence. Chris Doyle, at the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said: ‘These countries see Iran as the greatest threat and because of this they are willing to throw Palestine under the bus.’

Critics pointed out the agreement paves the way to a ‘lucrative’ arms deal between the US and the UAE which it wants to sell F-35 jets to despite previous objections from Israel.

Andrew Smith, from the Campaign Against Arms Trade, warned: ‘Military spending in the Middle East has increased a lot over recent years, and there is a risk it will intensify ongoing arms races in the region.’

A spokesman for the former Labour leader said: ‘Mr Blair has never received any payment for the work he has done for Israel, UAE and Arab relations.

‘And so far from throwing the Palestinians under a bus, it actually preserves the possibility of a Palestinian state by stopping the annexation of the Jordan Valley and settlements.’