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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blair Makes First Mideast Trip As 'Mission Impossible' Envoy

JERUSALEM -- Tony Blair landed in Israel on Monday for his first visit as an international envoy, hoping to help end 60 years of peacemaking failure since Britain handed Palestine to Jews and Arabs who are still fighting over it.

"Mission Impossible" is what the skeptics have, inevitably, already dubbed the newly retired British prime minister's mandate as the envoy for the four-power Quartet -- the United States, Russia, European Union, and United Nations.

But Blair has said he has hopes of helping to solve a critical global problem.

His spokesman described a meeting in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib as "positive" before Blair flew on to Tel Aviv for meetings later in Jerusalem.

Khatib and his Egyptian counterpart are due Wednesday to visit Israel to promote an Arab League peace proposal.

Blair is not expected to say much in public. He comes "very much in listening mode," his spokesman said last week.

He was to meet Israel's foreign and defense ministers as well as a top U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem on Monday before talks Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in nearby Ramallah.

Although Blair spoke last week of his hopes of progress, a sense of deja vu pervades both Israeli and Palestinian society, and those few Israeli and Palestinian newspapers that devoted space to his arrival betrayed no optimism about it.

Blair was asked by the Quartet simply to present by September an initial plan for building ruling institutions needed to establish a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

But that more limited mandate could expand later into a more direct role between the parties, diplomats say.