LONDON (Jul. 22)
Britain will maintain its ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization, despite Yasir Arafat’s refusal to condemn the May 30 attempt by members of the Palestine Liberation Front to attack civilians on Israeli beaches, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has confirmed.
Moreover, Britain’s ties with the PLO may serve as a proxy for relations between the United States and the PLO, cut off last month because of Arafat’s failure to condemn the attacks.
Thatcher, in a recent letter to Dr. Lionel Kopelowitz, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the Americans had asked Britain not to cut off contacts with Arafat, despite President Bush’s decision to suspend talks between U.S. officials and the PLO in the wake of the abortive raid.
“We do not think it would be wise to break off our contacts with the PLO,” she wrote. “Indeed, the Americans have urged us to maintain them.”
“President Bush made it clear that Palestinian participation in the peace process is vital. This is our view, too,” Thatcher wrote. “Too many Palestinians owe their allegiance to the PLO for a solution which excludes them to be durable.”
Thatcher wrote to Kopelowitz in reply to his request that she follow America’s example and cut contacts with Arafat.
Thatcher’s response should be a major disappointment to the Israeli government. The Israeli ambassador to London, Yoav Biran, has been pressing the Foreign Office to stop holding meetings with PLO emissaries.