Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 May 27 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (visiting Israel)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: King David Hotel, Jerusalem
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: David Smith, ITN
Editorial comments: 0945-1050 was set aside for the press conference (and interviews?).
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1327
Themes: Foreign policy (Middle East), Terrorism

David Smith, ITN

Prime Minister, to what extent has this trip been an education for you? I am thinking particularly of your visit to the Holocaust on Sunday.

Prime Minister

One is constantly learning. I have been to that Holocaust Museum before. I had a marvellous guide this time who pointed out everything and I saw things which I had not seen before and realised things which I had never realised before. For example, he gave me and showed me the documents on which the Nazis had made out precisely how many Jews in each country and they had a precise programme and they were coming up to deaths of 120,000 Jews a week and had they in fact gone on, then the whole of the Jewish community would have been extinguished if the war had lasted another year. That is a terrible thing.

David Smith, ITN

What lessons do you draw from that about the state of mind of Israel? [end p1]

Prime Minister

But I understand more vividly than I ever have before the need for security. Six million Jews were massacred in the last war, and if you have been through that and know that the policy of Hitler was total extinction, of course security means something very special to you and every move against any Jewish community anywhere, they can feel a wave of fear go through the whole community, and so obviously they talk not only of peace, but peace with security, and they must have secure and defensible borders, and that I understand, because they not only have to be secure against ordinary opponents, they have that background eternally in their memory.

David Smith, ITN

Turning to the Palestinians you met last night, were they the kind of men that you would like to see elected under free elections started by the Israelis, which is what you have been pushing for?

Prime Minister

Two of those who were there last night would have been two who probably would have negotiated had the negotiations come about between King Hussein and Mr. Peres. It was a very very interesting meeting. I asked them to talk quite frankly and candidly and to tell me their feelings, their views, how they saw things, and they did. Yes, I did learn a lot. Some things, of course, they saw very differently from the Israelis. That is what you would expect. That is what I went for. That is what I went to hear, to hear the views of both sides, and I did. [end p2]

David Smith, ITN

But are they the kind of men that any reasonable government—you would obviously put Israel in that category—would deal with?

Prime Minister

Two of them would have been and indeed were acceptable to both sides as taking part in negotiations. Unfortunately, that whole thing fell through. It would have been necessary, I think, to get a minimum of four. What a pity. We were so near and yet so far. But that really gives one hope to go on. You must just not give up in these difficult problems of history.

David Smith, ITN

Nevertheless, the message you got from the Palestinians was clearly that they believed the PLO is the only leadership. Do you see any role for the PLO at the moment or in the future?

Prime Minister

I do not see a role for the PLO unless the PLO renounces terrorism, accepts Resolution 242, the United Nations Resolution, which of course implies Israel's right to exist, and they would recognise that explicitly. Now then it would be a totally different PLO, but you cannot just say: “Yes, we renounce terrorism” without making that a real fact and real actuality.

You know, when we did the negotiations over Rhodesia, the people there with whom we were negotiating, who had been involved in terrorism, were prepared to give that up in return for the ballot. It was a clear giving up one thing in return [end p3] for a decision determined by ballot, and that worked.

David Smith, ITN

So you do see room for the PLO?

Prime Minister

Only provided the PLO renounces terrorism and as I have indicated on the other things.

David Smith, ITN

Have you not been a little bit dismayed by the way in which the Israelis have rejected fairly curtly your suggestion to compromise on the Palestinian issue?

Prime Minister

I think you are just referring to one conversation about which you were told by the person who rejected it and that was not so much rejection of the idea, but it would be difficult to arrange elections for mayors on the West Bank and maybe it would. There are other kinds of elections that could be possible because I was talking about representatives of the Palestinian people, and if we could not find any other way through, why do we not find some way for the people on the West Bank to have elected representatives, either directly or indirectly? They could do it indirectly, have representatives in the Jordanian Parliament. As you know, Jordan still pays the public officials on the West Bank, because the land came from Jordan, and if they were to directly elect people to the Jordanian Parliament then it would [end p4] stand to common sense that those people, having been elected, represented the Palestinian people, and that might be another way forward, and if it will not, then we must find another one. We must not stop trying, because there are all kinds of people both in Israel and above all in the West Bank and Gaza Strip who do look for hope and look for the time when they can be responsible for many of their own decisions, possibly as part of a federation of Jordan from whence they came.

David Smith, ITN

Do you sense at all that Israel is ready for peace, indeed capable at this stage of its fairly young life, for the whole notion of peace?

Prime Minister

Yes, I was very impressed with the number of people who said: “Look! Occupation does Israel no good. The reputation of occupation does Israel no good and really what we want is security, above all security.” Of course those territories are still recognised. The West Bank is still recognised as belonging to Jordan.

David Smith, ITN

All in all, has this trip been a success or a failure? [end p5]

Prime Minister

You have been round with us. I think it has been a tremendous success. I have never known people of a country demonstrate quite such warmth as these people have. That I think means that somehow there is something in this visit that strikes a chord. They remember the times with Britain and they recognise Britain as a country which stands up for all that is right and best and will eternally defend freedom and justice. That they respect.

David Smith, ITN

But there has been no substantial progress?

Prime Minister

One moment. I think there has been a great deal of progress as we have gone round and heard and spoken to many people. That in a way is progress and excellent atmosphere is progress. But I never came expecting to find some magic wand to wave. There is not in a problem as ancient as this. There is just hard and continuous and continuing work and always trying again. That is what we are doing.

David Smith, ITN

What do you say to the sceptics who argue that time is running out, that it is already too late?

Prime Minister

I am used to sceptics. They are usually wrong, but they make today's press and tomorrow's, but they will not in fact [end p6] fashion next year's or the years in ten or twenty years' time.

David Smith, ITN

You obviously see a continuing role for yourself?

Prime Minister

I do not know whether it is a role for myself or it is a role for people who think as I do. What I am very concerned about is that we go on trying, because I believe this is soluble, and I believe that the atmosphere is getting good for solution, but beyond it all is terrorism and we will fight terrorism whenever and wherever it occurs, and the sooner people realise that terrorism does not help them to achieve their aim but is hindering them, the better.