Tony Blair: Israel came into being striving for equality and freedom for all

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The Independent Online

The Middle East region faces a struggle that goes far beyond its borders and encompasses much more than the dispute between Israel and Palestine.

The population of the Arab world is set to double in the next decades. But what sort of future will it be? The far-sighted among them know that it should be a future not of narrow minds, religious bigotry and hostility to others, but one in which across the divide of faith, race and geography, we pursue together with common purpose, the good of all humanity.

This is a vision we share. One which a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians can help strengthen; not because the conflict is the cause of the extremism, but because its resolution would be such a powerful harbinger of hope.

No person of Abrahamic faith can stay long in Jerusalem without feeling they are in their spiritual home. Jerusalem should always be an open city for all people who wish to worship free and without fear.

I like the fact that my young son's friends in London number Jews, Muslims and Hindus as well as Christians. I look at this nation of the USA, a patchwork of different races and faiths, woven into one. This is the right way for the 21st-century world.

This is the world we want to pass on to our children. This is the world my father fought for, when Europe was plunged into the nightmare of an ideology that sought to treat one race as superior to others, the ideology that brought us the Holocaust, the most wretched abomination in human history.

What we learned then, we should learn still. That human beings are born equal and should live free. It is in striving for that ideal that the state of Israel came into being.

If one day, Israel can be secure, recognised, understood and respected by the nations which surround it; if one day the Palestinian people can have their own state and can prosper in peace within it and beyond it, we will bring more than peace to people who have lived too long with conflict.

We will lift the scourge of extremism and bring hope to the world.

This is the conclusion of a speech given by the Middle East envoy to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday

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