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Tony Blair: Changes in the region make Middle East peace negotiations more urgent, not less

Tony Blair tonight said that there is still room for negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, despite current uncertainties. In an interview with Channel 4 News, the Quartet Representative said it was too early to tell how the recent move towards unity by Fatah and Hamas would affect the peace process, but said that "it could be positive if there is a genuine reconciliation around principles that promote peace".

He told Jon Snow that, "part of the reason why it is so urgent that we get a political negotiation back together and we get some sense we have a framework to go forward for peace is because the changes in the region make this all the more urgent, not less."

When asked about the message of President Obama's most recent Middle East speech, Tony Blair said:

"President Obama was trying to give some shape to how we move forward ... saying ... a Palestinian state has got to be viable territorially and the only way it's viable is if you base it on '67 borders, but you have agreed landswaps."

The Quartet Representative went on to explain that this position is not necessarily incompatible with Prime Minister Netanyahu's:

"He says we can't return to the precise 1967 lines because there's realities on the ground. Well, in one sense, that's a different way of saying he wants '67 borders and land swaps. The land swpas have got to be agreed and whether it's the land swaps that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants or President Abbas wants on behalf of the Palestinians, that's the negotiation. Now, you've got Jerusalem, refugees, security [as well].

"Given the seriousness of the situation now and given the fact that there does appear to be a breakdown, a political impasse, we've got to try and define a way forward."