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Peres Favors European Initiative

March 19, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Shimon Peres, leader of Israel’s Labor Party, last night tried to

ease the growing strains between Israel and Britain by saying he had nothing against a European initiative to promote peace in the Middle East. “Europe and England can play a positive role to bring us together with our neighbors,” Peres told the Anglo-Israel Association’s annual dinner at the Savoy Hotel, at which the other guest speaker was James Prior, Britain’s Employment Secretary.

Peres cautioned, however, that such an initiative had to be “in the right direction” and should aim at bringing Jordan rather than the Palestine Liberation Organization into the peace process. He noted that Europe had recently made the mistake of entering negotiations with “an imaginary PLO of smiles, promises and hopes,” while ignoring the “real PLO” which launched terror attacks on women and children and was dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

In an indirect reference to reports that Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington will meet PLO leader Yasir Arafat later this year, Peres warned Britain not to pay attention “to the nice lunches that the PLO gives to some European leaders.” It should judge the PLO in the way that it judged the Irish Republican Army, he added.

Claiming that the season was right to build “a different infrastructure in the Middle East,” Peres said that in the next five or six months there was an opportunity to prepare a Middle East peace policy.

But he was worried about the longer-term dangers presented by the introduction of nuclear weapons into the hands of irresponsible leaders, the Soviet thrust to the Persian Gulf in quest of oil, and the spread of fanatical religious movements. If peace was not achieved in the next 10 years, Peres warned, Europe will find that the Middle East has become “a fire that it cannot put out.”

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