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Palestinian Self-determination Supported by Britain

June 13, 1980
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A ranking Foreign Office official spelled out more clearly than ever before last night the British government’s full support of Palestinian claims to self-determination on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Addressing a largely Jewish audience at the London Institute of Jewish Affairs on the “Dangers to Peace in the Middle East,” Douglas Hurd, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, justified involving the Palestine Liberation Organization in the peace negotiations.

Although the PLO contains terrorists, it also contains “those who say they are ready for compromise and (co) existence,” Hurd said. He said that he was “depressed” by the extremist statements at the recent El Fatah meeting in Damascus, but cautioned that it would be playing into the hands of the Russians and the terrorists to pretend that the PLO was simply a gang of murderers “or that the Palestinians have no right to be present when their future is discussed.”


Hurd spoke on the eve of the opening of a two-day conference of the European Economic Community (EEC) Ministers in Venice where a declaration is expected to emerge for an alternative to the Camp David approach to Middle East peace. He said that Palestinian claims could be suppressed by military force for some time to come. “But in the long run, we do not believe that this claim can be denied. It must be considered and its application must be negotiated alongside Israel’s legitimate claim to security if there is to be a just and lasting settlement,” Hurd said.

“Some day, round some table, whoever else may be present, Palestinians will have to agree to recognize Israel’s right to exist in security and to accept the arrangements negotiated to guarantee that security. In their turn, the Israelis will have at the same time to recognize the rights of the Palestinians to determine their own future within the context of a negotiated settlement,” the British diplomat declared.


Meanwhile, Premier Menachem Begin reiterated today Israel’s refusal to recognize what he called “the neo-Nazi, murderous PLO or to agree to the creation of a Palestinian state. His impassioned statement was contained in a written reply to a recent letter from 52 members of Parliament who had protested to him about conditions on the West Bank and asserted that the PLO must be involved in a Mideast settlement.

Citing the PLO’s covenant calling for the liquidation of Israel and last week’s declaration by El Fatah in Damascus affirming that goal, Begin wrote that Israel does not deny the right of Arab self-determination. But, he asked, “Should a 22nd Arab state, called the Palestinian state, be formed which would endanger the very existence of the one little Jewish State and which would unleash permanent bloodshed through the PLO’s genocidal methods?” He concluded, “No sir, we shall not recognize the neo-Nazi murderous PLO, nor shall we ever agree to the formation of a Palestinian state.”

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