Page 4, 24th July 1981

24th July 1981
Page 4
Page 4, 24th July 1981 — The PLO as a negotiating body

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The PLO as a negotiating body

WHILE I am loth to continue this exchange. I cannot pass over Mr Garners latest letter (July 17) With the silence which might be taken to imply consent to some of his more misplaced assertions,

The violence of the Middle East scene is all too evident and whether I am one of those who condone it, or, as is indeed the fact, one of those who deplore it front whichever quarter it comes. is of little moment to your readers who are gradually being placed in an improved position from which to judge for themselves where the main responsibility lies.

Whether I help or hinder the militant anti-Zionists is also of small importance in itself.

Mr Begin has done more to help them than I could expect to do in a lifetime of writing to the Catholic Herald.

It is, however. instructive that Mr Garnel should write of "militant antiZionism" as though it were some major heresy and that he should also appear to elevate the Balfour Declaration to the status of an article of faith.

It becomes all the more important

to remind your readers that my condemnation of its inherent injustice does not rely, as Mr Gomel implies, upon my opinion alone. but upon the unequivocal admission of Balfour himself.

My point about the recognition of Israel is simple though Mr Garnel persists in misunderstanding its imp! ications.

I came some time ago to the conclusion that, independently of what might be thought about its origins and mode of' establishment, the State or Israel existed as a nation and thus had Li right to exercise sovereignty behina secure and recognised frontiers.

I also recognise, however,. as Mr Gunnel apparently does not, that there are immense psychological and political barriers preventing Palestinians from proclaiming a similar belief, whether they hold it or not. when Israel has refused from the beginning to accept properly their existence as a separate people and is engaged in the violent and ever increasing supression of their rights and spoilation ol' their property.

Many of your readers will, for instance. have seen the recent televi sion programme on the handling of water rights in Israel and the occupied territories and other examples which could be given of contempt for the rights of the Palestinians are numberless.

Though I deeply regret that the Palestinians have not found it possible to modify their Charter in a way which would bring it into e.onforraity with the views I have expressed and believe that doing so would strike a greater blow against the present policies of Israel than they can ever accomplish by terrorism or military action.

I also take the view that pressure for such recognition from Israeli or Zionist sources without any question of a significant quid pia quo is likely to be counter:productive.

There is no inconsistency whatever between my personal advocacy of such recognition and my disposition to accept the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

The two matters are entirely distinct.

What is at issue here is not whether the PLO is acting wisely or rightly but

whether it has sufficient hacking among the Palestinian people as a whole to make it the only -irterlocuteur valable", to adopt the phrase used by General de Gaulle when he had to consider a similar question in relation to the Algerian people.

In my view. the PLO is in that position and an overwhelming proportion ol' qualified international opinion is tacitly or explicitly on my side.

I will not pursue further the question of responsibility for the Palestinian exodus because this would merely help Mr Garnel to distract attention from the essential point.

This is that a considerable part of the Palestinian people had homes and possessions in Palestine of which thea have been forcibly deprived.

Nothing has happened to extinguish their rights. The international community has continued to assert them, as Count Bernadotte did until the very eve of his death. Israel refuses them and Mr Garnet supports her.

John Dingle Wallington

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