Kuwait News Agency (kuna)
May 8, 2008 - 5:33pm

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday the Middle East peace process needs to move faster if there is to be any chance of an agreement this year.
In an exclusive interview with the satellite TV station 'Sky News' in the West Bank town of Jenin, Blair also said Israel must do more to lift restrictions on the Palestinians to improve their economy.
For almost a year the former British Premier has pursued his mission as the Quartets Middle East Envoy, working towards building the foundations of a Palestinian state, but he said more needs to be done and more quickly.
His team has asked the Israelis to dismantle 12 checkpoints for instance, but only one has been removed.
"There are a whole set of proposals that we have put to the Israelis and actually the next few weeks will be critical on delivering those, and yes, removing one is not enough", he said.
Palestinians are making progress, he believes, and so are countries supporting them with money, and there are signs the Israelis are seeing how they can help.
"But what is necessary is for Palestinians to be able to move relatively freely around their own territory. That is what they cannot do now", he added.
Blair said he is committed to seeing his job through.
The former British Prime Minister rarely gives interviews and would not be drawn on domestic politics and the performance of his party in recent local elections.
The peace process, launched with much fanfare by Israelis, Palestinians and the Bush administration in Annapolis, in the US, last November, is meant to deliver an agreement by the end of the year, but there is little sign of progress, Sky News said.
Blairs team said the coming weeks will be make or break for its chances.


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