JOHN HUMPHRYS: Well clearly all that raises
serious questions for Britain's foreign policy, Menzies Campbell is the
Foreign Affairs Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats and he's in our Edinburgh
studio. Mr Campbell, however deeply Muslims feel their grievances we can't
give them what we want can we because it would cut against our own interests
and our own policies, I mean, simply taking the Palestinian/Israeli question,
we cannot give them what they want.
MENZIES CAMPBELL: Well I'm not sure about that
because the Prime Minister after all, having seen Yasser Arafat this week
talked about the need for the Palestinians to have justice and land and
talked about the need for them to have a viable state and there is now
a recognition, I think, in the United States for the first time the present
administration has actually articulated a similar aspiration. I think
it is possible to achieve that but it will need a very substantial degree
of compromise on both sides, which we have not so far seen.
HUMPHRYS: And we're certain....
CAMPBELL: I beg your pardon.
HUMPHRYS: No I beg your pardon,
CAMPBELL: Yes, I was going to say
I suspect it is only the United States, perhaps with some assistance from
the United Kingdom, that's in a position to exercise that pressure on both
HUMPHRYS: I was going to say the
chance of compromise has disappeared hasn't it, after the murder of Al.....Mr
Ze'evi, the Tourism Minister, Yasser Arafat has been told by the Israelis
that unless he hands him over, that's it, they are not going to deal with
him anymore, they are going to cut him off at the knees.
CAMPBELL: Well that wouldn't make
very sense, Shimon Peres the Foreign Minister and the Israeli Government
said only a fortnight ago that if you were going to do any kind of deal
with the Palestinians, then you had to do it through Yasser Arafat. Part
of the problem is that Mr Arafat is nominally the leader of the Palestinians,
but his own position is not all that strong for a variety of reasons, that's
why, for example, it was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
that carried out the assassination of the Tourism Minister, because they
don't want to see any kind of accommodation between Israel and the Palestinians.
HUMPHRYS: So it would kill the
peace process if the Israelis were to follow up that threat.
CAMPBELL: Well it most certainly
would and one of the things the Prime Minister said, which struck a chord
with me and I hope with many others in the course of the last week or so,
was to say generations, far too many generations of young people on both
sides have grown up with this threat hanging over them. If succeeding
generations are to have any hope of a peaceful existence then a serious
effort has got to be made to try and reach some resolution. There is one
problem though which is worth pointing out and that's this there's, what
I sometimes call the crisis of expectation, we were here after all rather
similarly at the time of the Gulf War with President Bush's father and,
although there was no linkage and great efforts were made to say there
was no linkage, there was a tacit understanding that as soon as Saddam
Hussein had been expelled from Kuwait, then serious efforts would be made
in the Middle East and there were some efforts. There was the Madrid Conference
and then the Oslo Peace Agreement but the problem is, that after the Oslo
Peace Agreement, most Palestinians are very much worse off than they were
before and if we talk about doing something about this, and then don't
deliver, then, of course, the position will be very much worse in the
future than it was before.
HUMPHRYS: Indeed, and that's one
problem, the other is Iraq, they want a more lenient approach, the Arab
world wants a more lenient approach towards Iraq, the reality is we may
well take a much more stern approach towards Iraq, we may indeed attack
them again for all the reasons that we are aware of, so that is another
respect in which we cannot give the Arabs what they want.
CAMPBELL: Well I was among those
who was rather critical of some loose talk about extending the military
action to Iraq, I think if there was any question of that and there is
some suggestion in the American Administration, there are still those who
believe it is necessary, if there was any question of that without any
credible evidence, then I think it would be a very substantial mistake,
because, as one of your contributors pointed out a little earlier, there's
not much sympathy for Saddam Hussein but there's huge sympathy for the
Iraqi people, because of course it is they who have faced the brunt of
the effect of the sanctions. Now to be fair to the British Government,
along with the Dutch, they put together United Nations Security Council
Resolution 12 04, which said that the non-military sanctions could be lifted,
after, or suspended, after a period of ninety days, if Saddam Hussein
would allow the return of the inspectorate. And that was a difficult resolution
to achieve, but it was achieved. The problem is that Saddam Hussein simply
refuses to co-operate because from his point of view, the more he can maintain
the fiction that it is the sanctions and the sanctions alone which are
causing the trouble to his people, then the stronger his position is.
HUMPHRYS: Just a final yes or no
answer, no bombing pause against Afghanistan? Yes or no, if you would.
CAMPBELL: I'm afraid not, I understand
those who call for it, but the best thing we can do is to press on with
the campaign, at the same time making a maximum humanitarian effort.
HUMPHRYS: Ming Campbell, thank
you very much indeed.