London (Nov. 8)
Lord Carrington, the British Foreign Secretary, said today there was “a good chance” that PLO head Yasir Arafat would agree to guarantees for Israel’s security in a Middle East peace settlement.
Speaking on British Independent Television, Carrington agreed that any Arafat statement to that effect would have to be “good words” if they were to remove Israel’s “legitimate fears” that the PLO’s ultimate goal was Israel’s destruction.
Carrington appeared indifferent to Israeli and American criticisms of his visit last week to Riyadh as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community (EEC). He again praised the eight-point “peace proposal” offered by Saudi Crown Prince Fahd and said mutua### recognition of each other by Israel and the Palestinians was an indispensible basis for negotiations.
Carrington linked his readiness to meet Arafat with “satisfactory assurances” by the PLO that it recognized Israel’s right to live in security and safety. But, he said, the PLO would have to be involved in any negotiations because “it would not go away just because one did not like some aspects of it.”
Carrington’s remarks strengthened the belief here that he will meet Arafat soon, possibly after this month’s Arab summit in Fez, where the Saudis will seek to win the backing of the PLO and other Arab League members for the Fahd plan.
Particular significance was attached to the comment in Parliament last week by Labor party deputy leader Denis Healey, the “shadow” Foreign Secretary, that it would be a great mistake for Britain to offer forces for the Multinational Force for the Sinai unless the United States “first moved toward a more coherent and constructive policy in the Middle East.”
Observers said this meant that Lord Carrington could count on broad bipartisan support for his contention that there is little mileage left in the Camp David accords and that new steps must be taken to solve the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.