British Liberal Leader Attacks Israel’s West Bank Settlements

Jeremy Thorpe, the foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Party and its former leader, criticized Israel for its policy of planting settlements in the occupied Arab territories and for handing over its positions in south Lebanon to local Christian forces instead of the United Nations force. Addressing the Liberal Friends of Israel, Thorpe also condemned the retreat from liberalism in the Arab world, reflected by the repressive measures taken by the leaders of the two most Westernized Arab states, Egypt and Tunisia.

Thorpe warned that Israel risked “fueling a civil war” between the south Lebanon Christians and the Lebanese regular army when it left the Christian militia in charge of the areas it evacuated Tuesday. He said that by “continuing to demand the right to create new West Bank settlements at this critical moment, “the Israeli government not only endangered President Anwar Sadat’s peace initiative but Sadat’s regime. At the same time, he urged the Egyptian President not to suppress the embryonic democratic elements in Egypt. Recent events in India showed that even in a poor Asian country, bread and freedom were compatible, he said.

He charged that in Tunisia, President Habib Bourguiba’s rule has degenerated into a personal dictatorship. “Like so many absolutists before him, (Bourguiba) seems to be making no adequate preparation for his own inevitable departure, although now an old man, “Thorpe said.

He said the Liberal International is seeking contacts in the Arab world following its Executive meeting in Jerusalem last January.

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