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1995 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with the Israeli Prime Minister

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr Yitzak Rabin, held in Jerusalem on Sunday 12th March 1995.


MR ARAFAT:

Prime Minister of Britain, I would like to welcome you here in your official visit as the Prime Minister of Britain to Israel and to the Middle East. You have come in a very crucial period, in the peace process I believe that we have made tremendous moves in which we brought the beginning of a solution between Israel and the Palestinians, we signed a peace treaty with Jordan, and we are committed, Israel is committed, to implement its DOP with the Palestinians, of course hoping that the PLO will overcome the terror. The peace treaty with Jordan needs cultivation and assistance and we hope that negotiations with Syria and Lebanon will be resumed.

These issues were discussed today with Prime Minister John Major, in which we put the way that we see what are the hopes, what are the dangers. We discussed bilateral relations between our two countries, stating on my side that we believe that today we have improved tremendously the bilateral relations between the two governments, between the two peoples, and will try to do even more in every aspect in which we can find common bases and common interests.

We discussed also the relations with the European Union, that Britain is one part of it, an influencing part in the policy of the European Union, and other issues related to these three categories: the peace process, the bilateral relations and the relations between Israel and Europe. It was only the beginning of the talks, only the beginning of the visit. On Tuesday we will have a meeting again in which we will try to conclude what has been discussed, what will be discussed, and in what ways we can get assistance from Britain to the peace process and to develop the bilateral relations between our two countries.

Welcome, Prime Minister, and thank you very much for coming.

PRIME MINISTER:

Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed. I can echo all you have had to say in the last few moments. Let me just make a few points to drive the substance of what you had to say home perhaps a little further. I do not have any doubt whatsoever that the present bilateral relationship between the United Kingdom and Israel is better than it has been at any stage in the past. A great number of things have contributed to that and our discussions this afternoon have been looking towards areas where we can build on that for the future.

I enjoyed our discussions over the present situation and future prospects for the peace process. A great deal has been done, a great deal still remains to be done, and I have no doubt that you will move down that path with the same courage in the future that you have shown in the past. We will have the opportunity of resuming discussion on that a little later during my visit.

We also spent some time on bilateral matters, on how to accelerate trade, on how to accelerate investment both in Israel and in the wider Middle East in order to improve the levels of prosperity and cut off much of the grievance that tends sometimes to express itself in the sort of programmes that terrorism seek to put forward. Terrorism can be cut off by increasing prosperity, and as you have indicated Prime Minister, greater trade, greater investment, greater well-being, can do as much to undermine terrorism as political activity itself.

I welcome those discussions and I am delighted we were able to look at a series of detailed matters. We discussed both bilaterally and as far as the European Union is concerned a number of matters that will have the effect, I hope, of increasing the trade and business relationship between our two countries. There are areas that need still to be ironed out. We discussed those, we have taken those on board, we will look at those in some detail. We discussed also some of the agreements that indicate very clearly the improved relationship between our two countries, and we have just had the opportunity of signing a couple of them.

In the next couple of days we have some more very intensive discussions and I will have the opportunity of seeing a great deal locally myself and I very much look forward to that.

I also have no doubt at the beginning of this visit that at the end of this visit we will have cemented even further the improved relationship we have seen in recent years. I have looked forward to this visit for a very long time and if the discussions we have just had have been any guide to what lies ahead in the next day or so then I have no doubt that it will prove a very successful meeting of minds across a whole range of subjects.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION (John Sergeant, BBC):

Mr Major, could I ask you about your meeting with Yasser Arafat on Tuesday? Some people are suggesting that if you are happy to meet Mr Arafat, who was regarded as a terrorist, you should welcome the possibility of President Clinton meeting Gerry Adams later this week. Can you discuss that comparison and say why you reject that comparison?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am here in fact to discuss matters related to Anglo-Israeli relations, rather than that. But let me just say a word or two about that. Terrorism has now been renounced by Chairman Arafat; I have not seen it comprehensively denounced by Mr Adams. Chairman Arafat is now actively opposing terrorism; I am afraid that Sinn Fein are still directly associated with a fully formed terrorist organisation. Chairman Arafat has signed the Declaration of Principles; Sinn Fein of course have not yet committed themselves to the Downing Street declaration and they are not yet party to any agreement in Northern Ireland.

Now there are a range of other difficulties, if I may make the point. The government entered the diplomatic contacts with Chairman Arafat after he had explicitly renounced terrorism and committed himself unambiguously to peace. It was only after Chairman Arafat had signed the Declaration of Principles that I met him last year at Downing Street. So I think the comparison that some people may be seeking to make is a mischievous comparison.

QUESTION:

[Not translated].

MR RABIN:

[Not translated].