“If you had a benign regime in Iran, all of the problems in the Middle East would be resolvable,” ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Sunday.
Speaking at the opening session of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington, DC, Blair called for a tough line against the Islamic Republic.
“We have to push back hard,” Blair said.
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Blair — a former Mideast Quartet envoy who still travels often to the region — expressed his view that a “new way forward” was needed.
“We’re not going to reach peace in the old way,” Blair said. “Up to now, people thought if you do a peace deal, then the circumstances will change. I think it’s the other way around.”
Israel and many Arab countries, Blair noted, share numerous “common strategic interests.”
“The key to transforming the Middle East,” according to Blair, “is to have relationship between Israelis and Arabs which can be open, above the table, acknowledged in which Israel’s existence is accepted and Israel works closely with Arab states.”
“What I would like to see,” Blair went on to say, “is a new alliance in the Middle East — a strategic partnership with the leadership of the United States of America, in which we say this is what the battle in the Middle East is about. It’s against extremism, in favor of mutual respect across boundaries, race, faith and culture. And if we want the Middle East to succeed, we need to base this new partnership not just on interests, but on basic human values of dignity, respect and tolerance for all.”