Thatcher Endorses Palestinian Demands for Self-determination

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made clear her views on the Middle East conflict at a press conference here Tuesday morning shortly before ending her three-day visit to Israel.

She endorsed Palestinian demands for “self determination” but not an independent Palestinian state. She maintained that the best approach, “most likely to achieve success,” was a federation of the Palestinians with Jordan.

Thatcher was unequivocal in her opposition to terrorists. She indicated that the Palestinians must find an alternative to the Palestine Liberation Organization if the PLO persists in its refusal to accept United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and to recognize Israel.

She recalled her own unsuccessful efforts last October to persuade the PLO to accept those two conditions. She had gone so far as to invite to London two prominent PLO leaders, Bishop Elias Khoury and Mohamed Milhem, former Mayor of the West Bank Arab town of Halhoul, for talks with her Foreign Secretary.

The talks failed because the two Palestinians refused to accept the conditions, she said, adding that there would be no more high level meetings between British diplomats and PLO representatives unless the conditions were fulfilled. She stressed that this position stands despite the meeting in Tunisia this week between Dutch Foreign Minister Hans Van Den Broek and PLO chief Yasir Arafat. Van Den Broek is currently chairman of the European Economic Community’s (EEC) Council of Ministers. Britain takes over the chairmanship on July 1.

Thatcher affirmed that terrorist threats would never bring her to alter British policies of fighting international terrorism. She referred briefly to “cooperation” between Britain and Israel in the fight against terrorism.

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