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1995 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Israel Trip

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on his trip to Israel, made in an interview on Friday 10th March 1995.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what he hoped to achieve during his Israel trip].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it is a visit that is overdue. It is the first visit by a British Prime Minister to Israel since about 1986, so I am looking forward to seeing the Prime Minister, I shall certainly see the President - I am looking forward to meeting the President again - and also the Foreign Minister.

I think there are three or four different things we want to discuss. Of course, we shall want to discuss the peace process; of course, we will want to discuss the wider Middle East question; but I will also want to discuss bilateral relations and the tremendous opportunities that I think have opened up for improved trade and investment between our two countries and it is wholly with that in mind that I have such a distinguished collection of British businessmen going.

There are three points about the businessmen really; firstly, they are going. Secondly, the quality and size of the companies and the range of areas they cover; and thirdly, the fact that it is the very top businessmen who are coming, in many cases the chairmen, and I think that speaks very highly of the changed atmosphere and the changed opportunities for the future so I am very optimistic it will be successful.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what would Britain offer to the peace process?].

PRIME MINISTER:

I look forward to discussing it at length both with the Prime Minister and with Chairman Arafat in Gaza. I don’t want to anticipate those discussions. I had the opportunity of discussing it with the Prime Minister just a few months ago most recently and Chairman Arafat I think at the end of December 1993. There are several things I will wish to discuss: of course, the political aspects, but I think there are several components.

It is a very difficult process, this peace process. They have travelled further down the road than most people imagined was possible. From time to time, they have road-blocks, they have managed to overcome them and proceed. They seem to have made a little more movement towards elections when Mr Perez and Chairman Arafat met just yesterday. I will want to discuss whether there are any diplomatic ways in which we can assist that process. I think the biggest help diplomatically is for people to know that members of the G7, members of the Security Council stand behind this process, wish this process well, will give it a fair wind and will help diplomatically where they can. Beyond that, there is more practical assistance, of course, and that is the pragmatic, practical assistance that can come both bilaterally from those countries and also from the European Union and I shall also wish to discuss that.