Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1985 Sep 20 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (visiting Jordan)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Holiday Inn, Aqaba, Jordan
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: David Smith, ITN
Editorial comments: The interview probably took place between 1445 and 1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1633
Themes: Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Race, immigration, nationality, Security services, Terrorism, Famous statements by MT (discussions of)

David Smith, ITN

Prime Minister, you said earlier this week that Britain does not have a direct role in the peace process. What has changed your mind, because you have just made, by Middle Eastern standards, a very dramatic breakthrough?

Prime Minister

Well, I do not think it is a direct role. We cannot have a direct role; I hope we can have some influence, because we are very anxious that the peace process should get going, and we are very disappointed that the meeting which we had hoped would already have taken place between Ambassador Murphy of the United States and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation has not so far come about. So we wondered really what we could do perhaps to help that process forward because, you know, if we miss the boat now, it may not happen for a very very long time.

We have been considering the matter for some time and we care to the conclusion it would be best if Sir Geoffrey Howethe Foreign Secretary our Foreign Secretary—agreed himself to receive a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation and that the two Palestinians of that delegations—the Jordanians incidentally it will be the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary—the two [end p1]

Prime Minister

We have made our own move on our own, but of course, we are frequently in discussion with the United States and, of course, we have, as is our custom, let them know just before I made the announcement.

David Smith, ITN

What do you think the Israeli reaction will be? It is almost certainly going to be rather angry.

Prime Minister

Well I hope it will not be angry. You remember Mr. Peres made a very courageous speech some months ago, very courageous. Six points. I think we were all very impressed with the six points which he chose and he also said that he would be prepared to meet people who were members of the Palestinian National Council. That too was very significant.

I hope that many people in Israel will take the same view as we do. We want the peace process to go ahead. We have seen generations of young Israelis go to defend their territory, to defend their right to exist in that area, and many of them have lost their lives and Israel is a small country. We do not want that to happen again. It is very important for the world as well as for the nations of this area to learn to live together. There are enough difficulties in the world without having difficulties in this region. Now, if you take that view—and I do—then you do positively want to take constructive steps to help this process forward. We cannot have a direct role, but we [end p2] can say: Look! Here is a fantastically courageous person in Jordan—King Hussein—fantastically courageous, visionary, a person whom any country would be proud to call a friend. You do not just stand by and watch courage and visionary people and do nothing. You try to do something to help.

After all, do not forget, President Sadat went to Jerusalem. Fantastically courageous. Unheard of! Impossible! But it happened!

We want now other steps forward in the peace process to get a settlement of it. We can then turn our views and constructive efforts to other problems in the world and which of course we have to do at the same time.

David Smith, ITN

Do you consider it a gamble, because the risk of failure is quite high, isn't it? Both for King Hussein and for everybody else?

Prime Minister

I think King Hussein 's initiative was tremendously courageous. If it fails, it will be a very big step back. I do not want it to fail. I do not think it is in the interests of anyone in the region for it to fail. I think it is in the interests to go ahead.

You heard me talk at the official dinner the other evening, that we have to take risks for peace. I cannot talk like that if I just leave the risks to everyone else. So I thought it best, because I do want peace, to be solid and to go ahead in the Middle East. I thought it better to take the steps [end p3] that we have indicated.

David Smith, ITN

What were your thoughts yesterday when you were in the refugee camp? It obviously made a very clear impression on you.

Prime Minister

It is bound to when you see people living like that. That camp was founded for some 26,000 people in 1967. Some of them had already come from a previous camp into the West Bank and then in 1967 had to move again and there are now, I am told, actually 75,000 people in it, and you see them, and they are remarkably cheerful. It is fantastic how they have managed to deal with the problems and the song that the children chose to sing to us was “When you are happy, clap your hands!” Fantastic! And you really begin to think that if they can tackle their problems like that, then the rest of us have not a great deal to worry about.

But you do, again, realise that you must take constructive steps to help to get a settlement in the Middle East. You cannot just talk about it. You have to do something constructive. Yes, one may be criticized, but Heavens, if you are ever going to do anything in life you are going to be criticized. But all right, we have taken a small step. I hope with all my heart it will lead to the meeting between Ambassador Murphy and their Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. They have chosen two names and I hope and believe there are others on the list which would be acceptable to the United States and I want that to go ahead. [end p4]

David Smith, ITN

Has it made you more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause in your own mind, doing something like that?

Prime Minister

I have seen a camp before and I knew therefore pretty well what I was going to see. The outstanding thing is not only the way those people are tackling their problems, but the courage of King Hussein, his initiative, and after all, he has occasion to know what some of the PLO are like. Do not forget, he had the Black September Movement in Jordan, which he had to deal with, because things were very very bad here in the early 1970s. You cannot tell him anything about this area that he does not know, and knowing it all, he nevertheless was prepared to take his initiative and try to get this process going. That courage really should be helped along and we must do our bit, and I just hope that there are many many people who will respond to that courage. They responded to President Sadat 's courage. Can they not now respond to this courage too?

David Smith, ITN

…   . an excellent interview, if I may say so. Very briefly, you have drawn a line under the Russian controversy this week, Prime Minister. Do you think that perhaps you seriously misjudged the new leadership in Moscow? [end p5]

Prime Minister

Oh no, I did not misjudge it at all, not in any way. I was not surprised at the reaction, but we have achieved our objective. We have in fact turned out the 25 who were the heart and core of the Russian intelligence ring, subversive activities, in the United Kingdom, and they were turned out with others who were associated, all of them, with that process. We have achieved our objective. We have broken that ring. It will take them a very long time, if ever, to set it up again. We have achieved our objective.

David Smith, ITN

But what about the …   . relations though?

Prime Minister

Good Heavens! Our job is to protect the United Kingdom from these activities. Of course it is, and intelligence is extremely important. Of course we had to turn them out. We would be failing in our duty towards the people of the United Kingdom. We have achieved that. It is broken, it is smashed, with the six also associated with it. What is the point in going tit-for-tat like two little children when you have achieved your objective? We have achieved that objective. Mr. Gorbachev chose to flex his muscles; I am not surprised.

The reason I think I can do business with Mr. Gorbachev is I do not see him through any rose-tinted spectacles. I know he is a thorough Communist through and through and will react as a thorough Communist. He knows that I am the most ardent advocate of freedom and democracy and will always be, and when you do not have any rose-tinted spectacles, when you know what one another is [end p6] like, you are much more likely to be able to get down and do business. I was not surprised at seeing a new ruler—yes “ruler” I suppose is the right word because that is what you are in a way …

David Smith, ITN

Do you still think you can do business with him?

Prime Minister

Yes, of course I can do business. He has reacted in a way which I expected, but I am not going to go on doing tit-for-tat when my objective has been achieved.

David Smith, ITN

This has got to be the last. Any reaction to Mr. Powell 's warning today that we are heading for catastrophe unless you repatriate blacks?

Prime Minister

Well, as you know, I never comment on a speech before I have seen it and Mr. Powell 's speeches always have to be read very carefully, but I would like to make it perfectly clear that compulsory repatriation is no part of this Government's policy.

David Smith, ITN

Will you take note of it? Will you take it seriously?

Prime Minister

I have not seen the speech yet. I prefer to read the [end p7] speech before I make any comment on it, but I am just telling you what our policy is. Compulsory repatriation is no part of this Government's policy.

David Smith, ITN

Prime Minister, thank you for your patience.