Blair: Obama anxious about Israel's fate

By the Associated Press | May 26, 2011 | 5:14 AM EDT

LONDON (AP) — Middle East envoy Tony Blair says Barack Obama launched his peace initiative because he's concerned about what might happen to Israel if Palestinians unilaterally declare statehood.

Blair told an audience of business leaders gathered in central London on Thursday that Obama is "frankly worried about the position that Israel is in."

The ex-prime minister says that Obama's initiative — rejected by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu — is an "an attempt to fill a vacuum which he sees as dangerous, particularly dangerous for Israel in the run-up to September."

Mideast watchers have speculated that Washington launched its peace initiative to head off a potentially damaging vote on Palestinian statehood at the U.N. general assembly in September.