HC Deb 20 May 1981 vol 5 cc271-2
5. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether statements at the 15th session of the Palestinian National Council concerning the European Economic Community initiative on the Middle East will allow that initiative to proceed in its present form.

Sir Ian Gilmour

The PLO attitude towards the Venice declaration and European peace efforts based on it has on the whole been positive, although it does not regard it as going far enough. The Palestine National Council confirmed this. Its final statement represented no change in the PLO's general public position, although some unhelpful statements were made during the meeting. The outcome of the meeting does not affect our determination to make a positive contribution towards a peaceful settlement and to persuade the PLO to accept fully the principles of a negotiated settlement.

Mr. Mikardo

As the initiative has now been greeted with sharp scepticism by the Israelis and with bitter hostility by the great majority of the Palestine National Council, is not it clear that it is bound to be a failure even as a public relations exercise?

Sir Ian Gilmour

As I have said to the hon. Gentleman before, his premise is not right. The initiative has not been greeted in that way by the Palestinians, who have welcomed it, although they think that it does not go far enough. I do not understand the hon. Gentleman's objection to it. Is he against Israeli withdrawal? Is he against security for Israel? Is he against recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians? If not, why does he not support the European initiative?

Mr. Dykes

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the European initiative, which is a good thing, could be revived most successfully and efficiently if the Palestinian National Council were to give the necessary fundamental assurance that it is prepared to live with Israel on the basis of the pre-1967 borders?

Sir Ian Gilmour

That is something that we would greatly welcome, and for which we have been pressing. We should greatly welcome it if Israel were to recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. Such mutual recognition would be in the interests of both parties.

Mr. Greville Janner

Will the Minister unequivocally condemn terrorist violence, whether by the PLO or any other terrorist body?

Sir Ian Gilmour

As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well, Her Majesty's Government condemn terrorism from wherever it comes.

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