John Major urged to be Middle East negotiator

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John Major has emerged as a surprise possible choice to act as an international envoy to the Middle East.

Senior Conservatives have been pressing for the former prime minister to lead efforts to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The plan was suggested during a Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee meeting. Ben Bradshaw, a Foreign Office minister, told MPs: "I certainly would be prepared to take the proposal away and give it further consideration."

Sir Patrick Cormack, a former Conservative frontbench spokesman, said the idea had been warmly received by senior figures in the Arab world and in Israel. He pointed to Mr Major's successful efforts in the wrangling behind the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and in initiating the moves that led to the Good Friday Agreement.

Sir Patrick said: "John Major has enormous talents as a negotiator and it may well be that he could be the person to bring about a breakthrough."

A spokeswoman for Mr Major said he had received no offer to be an envoy, but he would be "hugely flattered at such a suggestion".

Mr Bradshaw said Britain could host a conference on a peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia, under which Arab nations would offer Israel security in return for Arab territory lost in 1967, recognition of a Palestinian state and a solution to the refugee question.