International peace envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday refused to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state while addressing a gathering of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
During the session, right-wing Israeli lawmaker and committee member Limor Livnat asked Blair if he supported Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Blair's refusal to answer the question reportedly infuriated committee members.
Blair went on to say that if he was an Israeli lawmaker today, he too would be wary of surrendering more land to the Palestinian Arabs after Israel's attempt to peacefully hand over the Gaza Strip in 2005 resulted in the establishment of a heavily-armed Hamas-controlled terrorist haven from which daily artillery attacks are launched on Israel.
Nevertheless, the former British leader said Israel has no choice but to move ahead with the land concessions he and the rest of the international community insist are the only path to peace.
Blair has been staying in the region as official envoy for the Middle East Quartet, an international conglomerate consisting of the United States, European Union, Russia and the UN.
His focus since arriving has been bolstering the Palestinian economy in the belief that a higher standard of living will erase the Arab Muslims' religious desire to wrest control of lands their religion once controlled.