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Blair bows to Israel and downgrades peace conference

Palestinian officials attacked Tony Blair's planned conference on the conflict with Israel yesterday, saying it was much less than originally promised.

They claimed the prime minister had proposed a peace conference but had scaled it back when Israel objected.

Ahmed Qureia, the Palestinian prime minister, said: "We ... have the means and expertise for peace and negotiations. We are in need of a peace conference and not a meeting."

Mr Blair said the meeting, which Israel supported but declined to attend, would focus on Palestinian political, economic and security reform.

Ghassan Khatib, the Palestinian minister for labour, said the entire leadership was disappointed by Mr Blair's performance.

"They talked about a political conference, a peace conference. But it was quickly downgraded."

Mr Khatib said the Palestinians would attend the meeting because "we have no choice but to explore every avenue open to us".

Qais Abu Leila, a senior PLO representative, said the Palestinians did not have great expectations of Mr Blair's initiative, but they had not expected him to be turned over by Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, so easily.


The Guardian, "Blair bowed to Israel, say Palestinians ", 24 December 2004.,2763,1379490,00.html

"The Insider" mailing list article, 24 December 2004.

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Tags: Israel, Palestine, Blair, peace, conference, Palestinains, , conspiracy theories.

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