Tony Blair has landed a major diplomatic job as the international Middle East peace envoy, responsible for preparing the Palestinians for negotiations with Israel. His role, to be announced today, will be largely to work with the Palestinians over security, economy and governance.
Working from an office in Jerusalem, and possibly another in the West Bank, Mr Blair will become the special representative for the Middle East quartet of UN, EU, US and Russia. [..]
Friends of Mr Blair suggest he would make it a central purpose of his mission to work to restore Palestinian unity after the armed takeover of the Gaza Strip by the Islamist movement Hamas.
At times he has had to bend with an American willingness to bolster Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader, while ignoring the plight of 1.4m Palestinians in Gaza.
The idea of Mr Blair doing this job is understood to have originated with the prime minister himself in conversation with George Bush, who then suggested it to the UN. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is said to be a keen supporter and Washington was reported last night to have mounted "an enormous push" to ensure Mr Blair got the post.
Diplomats said there was some disquiet over the way US talks with Mr Blair were well advanced before any details were shared with the other quartet partners.
Hmmm....something tells me that Tony isn't exactly starting off on the right foot.