Tony Blair and David Cameron urged to team up in push for Gaza ceasefire

British foreign secretary arrives in Jordan and Egypt as his predecessor is expected in Israel

David Cameron visits Jordan as calls for Gaza ceasefire grow

David Cameron visits Jordan as calls for Gaza ceasefire grow
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Two British former prime ministers have been privately urged by senior Arab diplomats to team up to deliver a ceasefire in the Gaza-Israel conflict as statesmen with the experience to deliver a breakthrough.

Lord Cameron, the UK Foreign Secretary, and Sir Tony Blair could work together on bringing peace to the Israel-Gaza conflict to bring influence to bear on Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader, The National has been told. "Cameron and Tony Blair could team up to give a real push to the ceasefire talks," one diplomat said. "They have the skills to build trust across the region for a new initiative to start after that."

The pair are understood to have informally discussed the possibility of helping to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict that has claimed more than 20,000 lives, British government sources separately disclosed.

Mr Blair’s role as a potential peacemaker was disclosed by foreign office minister Andrew Mitchell, standing in for Mr Cameron, who said the former Labour prime minister would meet Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Nothing official has happened as yet but it is quite possible that the two former prime ministers have had their own personal discussions on resolving the crisis,” a senior Whitehall official told The National.

“Clearly Tony Blair has got a lot experience in the Middle East, both as prime minister and since leaving office, but I'm not aware that we're formally in touch with him.

“As two former prime ministers they will meet at formal events and discuss world issues.”

While Mr Cameron was in Downing Street, from 2010 to 2016, he is said to have met Mr Blair at times sounding him out for advice on international affairs. Mr Blair worked as a special representative of the quartet of international powers seeking a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians between 2007 and 2015, focused largely on West Bank development and prosperity.

Mr Mitchell, who is Mr Cameron's deputy, revealed the pair would be travelling in the region ahead of Mr Cameron's arrival in Jordan and Egypt.

“There have been regular discussions between our prime minister and Prime Minister Netanyahu," he said. "Also the foreign secretary has been part of those discussions too. I think Sir Tony Blair is seeing Prime Minister Netanyahu shortly too,” he told MPs.

The FCDO told The National that it was not discussing the exchanges further. "We don’t have anything further to add from Minister Mitchell’s comment yesterday," it said.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said that they could not disclose the former Labour leader's travel plans for security reasons. "We have said previously that Mr Blair has an office in Israel, has continued to work on issues regarding Israel and the Palestinians and that he is discussing the situation with a number of people in the region and elsewhere to see what can be done," she said.

The Daily Telegraph reported last month that Mr Blair had not “offered or taken” a role as intermediary but did add that they did not rule out accepting such a position.

Lt Gen Sir Simon Mayall, who was personally appointed by Mr Cameron as his military adviser on the Middle East, said it would be a “powerful force for peace” if the two former prime ministers combined.

“We all want to bring this current violence in Israel and Palestine to an end, so having two heavy hitters, with access and understanding of the issues and plenty of exposure at the very highest level in their times as prime minister can only be very helpful and a powerful force for peace.

“We are really hopeful that the likes of Cameron and Blair with their track record and credibility can convince other important players in the Middle East to actively engage and give us a long a long-term solution.

“The quest for an opportunity out of a crisis is always the hallmark of a great statesman, not simply a headline-grabbing tactical halt to the violence.”

Lt Gen Mayall added that during his time as Britain’s first defence senior adviser Middle East, that Mr Cameron “understood the complexities” of the region.

Updated: December 20, 2023, 10:29 PM