11 Oct A ‘useless, useless’ £10million peace envoy:
Blair slammed by Middle East leaders over role as negotiator
Following end of his premiership Blair became the new Middle East envoy.
- He was given a home, 12 members of staff and a fleet of armoured cars
- Living in Jerusalem he had access to private jet and expenses with cash on demand
- Brimming with confidence, he ignored the limitations imposed on his role
To Blair, his appointment as the Middle East envoy opened a glorious new chapter in his life. In Jerusalem, he would have everything he enjoyed: the sun, a Mediterranean lifestyle and status. But his reputation took a dive when he delivered a eulogy in January 2014 at the funeral of the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
What on earth was he to do after leaving office? In the closing weeks of his premiership, Blair put emotional pressure on his Iraq war ally, George W. Bush.
This seemingly did the trick, securing his appointment as the new Middle East envoy for the United Nations, EU, U.S. and Russia. His grand-sounding mission would be to mediate in the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.
To Blair, the appointment opened a glorious new chapter in his life. In Jerusalem, he would have everything he enjoyed: the sun, a Mediterranean lifestyle and status.
Not only was he given a home, 12 members of staff, a fleet of armoured cars, access to a private jet and unsupervised expenses, but for his offices he chose to occupy the entire top floor of the five-star American Colony Hotel. The presence of 20 Israeli security men confirmed his importance.
Feted as a hero for getting rid of Saddam Hussein, he was also introduced to the hospitality of Israel’s multi-millionaires and billionaires.
Among these was Ofra Strauss, an attractive divorcee. His frequent visits to her home fuelled gossip about an affair — but this was firmly denied.
To Richard Makepeace, the British consul in Jerusalem who briefed Blair on his first visit, the new envoy radiated self-belief.
‘I’ve solved Ireland, and this is just another problem,’ said Blair, brushing aside warnings about the region’s complexities.