London (Nov. 24)
The following is the text of the statement on the participation of four European Economic Community countries in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) as it was read out in Parliament yesterday by Deputy Foreign Secretary Humphrey Atkins:
“The governments of France, Italy, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, after consulting with their partners in the 10 (member-states of the Economic Community) have decided, subject to their constitutional procedures and to agreement on the practical and legal arrangements, to accede to the request of the governments of Egypt, Israel and the United States to contribute to the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai.
“The four governments state that their participation in the MFO is based on the understanding that:
(1) The Force exists solely for the purpose of maintaining peace in Sinai following Israeli withdrawal. There is no other role.
(2) The Force is being established in its present form in the absence of a United Nations decision on an international force and its position will be reviewed should such a decision become possible.
(3) Participation by the four governments in the Force will not be taken either as committing them to or excluding them from participation in such other international peacekeeping arrangements as have been or may be established in the region; and
(4) Participation in the MFO by the four governments is without prejudice to their well known policies on other aspects of the problems in the area.”
MOVES BY EGYPT AND ISRAEL WELCOMED
Continuing, the statement said:
“We welcome the achievement of peace between Israel and Egypt as a first step towards that goal.
“Similarly we welcome the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai as the first step towards the realization of the call for withdrawal contained in Security Council Resolution 242, which specifically declared inadmissible the acquisition of territory by war, and we believe that the international community has a duty to play its part, as necessary and with the agreement of the parties concerned, in peace arrangements in the Middle East.
“We are ready to participate also in such arrangements in the other territories currently occupied in the context of Israeli withdrawal.
“We regard our support for the arrangements associated with the implementation of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty as quite distinct from and independent of the rest of the Camp David process.
“In addition, we wish to express our firm support for the Egyptian government and people and our belief in the need for stability and continuity in Egypt.
“Our decision to participate in the MFO follows from the policy, as stated in the declaration issued at Venice in June 1980 and in subsequent statements.
“This policy, while insisting on guarantees for the security of the State of Israel, places equal emphasis on justice for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination. It also holds that the PLO must be involved in the process leading to a comprehensive peace.
“We pledge ourselves to support the MFO. We also repeat that, together with our partners in the ten, we will continue to work for the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East in all ways consistent with the principles to which we hold.
“The ten as a whole have made a statement in support of our decision to participate in the following terms:
“The ten consider that the decision of France, Italy, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom to participate in the Multinational Force in Sinai meets the wish frequently expressed by members of the community to facilitate any progress in the direction of a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East on the basis of mutual acceptance of the right to existence and security of all the states in the area and the need for the Palestinian people to exercise fully its right to self-determination.”
BRITAIN OFFERS CLARIFICATIONS
Atkins told the Parliament that the decision by the four governments was “a symbol of our determination to achieve a comprehensive peace settlement following negotiations between the parties which would bring justice for all the peoples and security for all the states of the area.” However, the British are clarifying their offer to particpate in the MFO to which Britain would supply 150 persons to the 2,500-member force.
A Foreign Office statement said the offer was made only under the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and was independent of the rest of the Camp David accords. Secondly, the statement said, since the MFO was being set up outside the United Nations framework, it might be reviewed if circumstances required. Thirdly, it added, the Europeans neither committed themselves to nor excluded themselves from other peacekeeping machinery which might be brought into the area.
And fourthly, the offer was being made without prejudice to European policies concerning a Middle East settlement. This meant, Atkins told the Parliament that Britain adheres firmly to the Venice declaration of the European Community which called for the Palestine Liberation Organization to be associated with the Mideast peace process.
Observers here said these clarifications appear to be aimed at mollifying the Arab League states rather than overcoming Israeli objections. The British are, therefore, relying on the United States to overcome these objections and this is the purpose of the visit to Washington by Douglas Hurd, Britain’s Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. (See story from Washington, P.I)