Diplomats attack Blair

They included former ambassadors to Baghdad and Tel Aviv, and said Blair, a staunch ally of US President George W. Bush, should stop backing America’s policies in Iraq and the Middle East which were “doomed”.

According to the BBC, the former diplomats said they had watched Blair’s policies on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iraq “with deepening concern”.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said the diplomats were “entitled to their views” and the prime minister’s office would respond to their letter in due course.

“What I would stress is that our objectives both in Iraq and the Palestinian conflict remain stability, peace and freedom in the Middle East,” he said.

The diplomats said they hoped parliament would address their concerns and that it would “lead to a fundamental reassessment”.

They called the Israeli decision to retain some Jewish settlements in the West Bank, “one-sided and illegal”, and warned it would cost yet more lives.

“Our dismay at this backward step is heightened by the fact that you yourself seem to have endorsed it, abandoning the principles which for nearly four decades have guided international efforts to restore peace in the Holy Land,” the diplomats told the prime minister.

They further condemned Britain and the US for the heavy-handed conduct of the war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and its aftermath, for having no clear exit strategy and for appearing insensitive to the ensuing Iraqi deaths.

The foreign affairs spokesman for Britain’s Liberal Democrats, Menzies Campbell, told the BBC that Blair should listen to the ex-diplomats’s advice.

“This is a most remarkable intervention in the debate about the Middle East from a group of people who are almost certainly the most expert in Britain on the issue,” he said.

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