The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1995Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Speech at Chairman Arafat’s Lunch – 14 March 1995

Below is the transcript of Mr Major’s speech at a luncheon hosted by Chairman Arafat at the Palestine Hotel in Gaza on Tuesday 14th March 1995.  [Small parts of the original text are inaudible, marked with ….]


…. still remains to be determined, some of them are very crucial issues, settlements and the status of Jerusalem, they are to be referred to the final status negotiations, and in the meantime the status quo should be respected and nothing done to seek unilateral advantage, and I think it is important that that principle is upheld.

And I think it is equally important to ensure that the negotiations continue and that people see an improvements in their daily lives whilst those negotiations, which may be protracted, continue to go on, and I believe that will be very important in sustaining the popular support for the process that is so necessary for its success.

Beyond these fields perhaps it is in the economic area that the international community can contribute most, and a number of people have done so, and I saw for myself the effectiveness of some of the work that has been done, and some of the help that has been provided. The European Union remains by far the major donor thus far, providing something approaching 600 million dollars over five years, of which approximately one-fifth comes from the United Kingdom. We will also help in a number of other bilateral ways, but I need not on this occasion. We shall sustain our bilateral aid and I have been able to make a further improvement to it today.

What we equally seek to do is to encourage, as far as it is practicable, the involvement of the private sector. There are a number of areas of cooperation and some of the key British Chairmen who are part of that cooperation are sitting around this table this morning. I was delighted to hand over 50 vehicles to the civil police this morning as part of our bilateral aid. That and other areas of help have been provided in the past and I am confident will be provided in the future.

But the maintenance of security is going to be the essential pre-requisite for the successful pursuit of the peace negotiations. Without it, I suspect neither the Palestinians, nor the Israelis, will be able to make the commitments necessary to achieve a lasting settlement. By enabling your police force to improve security within the Palestinian Autonomy, I hope that those 50 vehicles, and the other help that my country has been able to provide, will make a further contribution to helping that peace process by offering reassurance both here and elsewhere as for the maintenance of peace.

Aid cannot be the whole story. Private enterprise has its own role to play and I need not …. to this particular audience of all audiences, except to say that it is very necessary that private enterprise has the confidence to play its role in the future, and I very much hope that it will.

Mr Chairman, I have only had a very brief opportunity of having a look at the difficulties faced by the Palestinian people who are present here …. they have suffered a very great deal for a very long time. There are problems on the most enormous scale that face you, I recognise the scale of those problems. But what I believe is beyond doubt is that you and the Israeli government have taken a very courageous and a very exciting step in advancing the process against many difficulties on both sides in advancing the process as far as you have got. I believe that you deserve the support of the international community as you try to advance that process even further and I believe the international community owes it to you as well, to help facilitate the circumstances in which private enterprise itself can …. standards right across the Middle East, and I believe that is the only way forward for all of us.

Let me simply conclude by thanking you for your hospitality on this occasion, and …. yesterday, and say that we and the United Kingdom will continue to offer all the support we can for the peace process in the hope that it will provide a lasting settlement not just for the Palestinians, but for the Palestinians, for the Israelis and for the wider Middle East. That is the goal that is in front of people and I think it is one that is very worthwhile seeking.