Blair Admits to Cabinet Splits over His Support for Bush on Israel ; MIDDLE EAST CRISIS
Brown, Colin, The Independent (London, England)
Battered by criticism, Tony Blair last night prepared for a holiday, leaving behind a cabinet torn by dissent, a party in turmoil, and a country dismayed by his handling of the Middle East crisis.
The Prime Minister robustly defended his decision to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President George Bush in refusing to call for a ceasefire while Lebanon burns. His defence came amid claims intheNew Statesman that there was a conspiracy between the US, Israel and Britain to launch a war on Lebanon.
Speaking at his monthly press conference, he said that events in Lebanon had to be seen as part of a wider picture and that a stand had to be made against the "arc of extremism" that links Palestine, Syria, Iran and Iraq.
Five years ago, days after the 11 September attacks, Mr Blair told a Labour party conference: "This is a moment to seize. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world..."
Since then, Mr Blair has joined Mr Bush in waging a world-wide "war against terror" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at home in British cities. The two leaders are now accused of standing by as Israel attempts to eliminate Hizbollah in southern Lebanon, at the cost of at least 900 civilian lives.
Yesterday Mr Blair called for an "alliance of moderation to take on those people with such extreme views..." But apparent one-sided support for America and the Israelis has lost allies in the Middle East and support at home.
Resurgent Taliban fighters this week killed three more British soldiers in Helmand province. Suicide bombings kill dozens daily in Iraq, and yesterday it emerged that the respected outgoing British ambassador William Patey, in a leaked memorandum to Mr Blair, had told the Prime Minister that Iraq was facing "a descent into civil war and anarchy". Israel's apparent disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians, and Mr Blair's refusal to call for a halt to the fighting, has further diminished his standing in the Arab world.
Mr Blair is leaving Britain resigned to the fact that he is appears isolated within his cabinet. Yesterday, Mr Blair admitted some cabinet ministers had shown "anxiety" abouthisrefusal to press President Bush to condemn the …
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Publication information: Article title: Blair Admits to Cabinet Splits over His Support for Bush on Israel ; MIDDLE EAST CRISIS. Contributors: Brown, Colin - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: August 4, 2006. Page number: 2. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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