Tony Blair has hired a former Israeli army intelligence officer to work in his private office, despite his role as Middle East peace envoy. Pollak was recruited as a private consultant between October 2012 and April this year
Lianne Pollak, who has led intelligence teams in the Israel Defence Forces, was recruited as a private consultant between October 2012 and April this year.
The 30-year-old was previously a policy adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, working with security agencies and senior officials.
Mr Blair has been involved in sensitive negotiations between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority. The former prime minister is the unpaid envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet – the group that represents the US, Russia, the United Nations and Europe.
His role includes encouraging development in Gaza and the West Bank and helping to forge a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, having been appointed when he left Downing Street in June 2007.
The disclosure of Miss Pollak’s appointment follows calls for the former prime minister to be more transparent about his complex business network.
Peter Kilfoyle, a former Labour minister who was Mr Blair’s leadership campaign manager, but is now a critic, said: “If you have got someone close to the so-called negotiator who is so partial in these matters [the Palestinians] are going to look even more sceptically at Mr Blair than they do currently.”
Miss Pollak’s public profile on the Linkedin website states: “She recently finished a project as a consultant at the Office of Tony Blair, where she managed processes on Economic Development, improving the business environment, and security related topics.”
Under “experience” she writes that she was a consultant in Mr Blair’s office, listing as her duties: “Strategy and Management Consulting for a major client overseas.
“Managing work processes on Economic Development, improving the business environment and security-related topics.”
Describing her professional experience before her work for Mr Blair, the profile states: “Before joining the team, she worked for the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office in the negotiation team with the Palestinians during the Annapolis process and with the Foreign Affairs Department at the National Security Council.
“She specialized in Economic Development and capacity building for the Palestinian population.
“Lianne was also an officer in the Israeli army in the area of intelligence analysis, and led intelligence teams and intelligence processes in volatile periods, working with senior generals on a daily basis.”
According to Linkedin she served as an officer in the IDF between November 2001 and May 2004, before going on to work for the Israeli prime minister’s office in September 2008, for just under three years.
During her time in the Israeli government she provided strategic planning for the prime minister and worked “hand in hand” with “diverse stakeholders” including high ranking officials and security agencies, her profile states.
A spokesman for Mr Blair said Miss Pollak, who has an MA in public management from the London School of Economics, worked on “public service reform” on a project not related to the Middle East, adding: “There are Palestinians who work for Tony Blair. So the idea of a conflict of interest on this basis is absolutely absurd.”
By Edward Malnick, and Robert Mendick
7:10AM BST 07 Jul 2013
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