War against Terrorism

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 4th November 2004.

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Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 2:30 pm, 4th November 2004

It is difficult to say clearly what the reasons are. Will history see President Arafat, who is, of course, now gravely ill, as the Hamlet of Palestine, who was never able to reach a decision? To what extent were the political constraints on him too intense? He has had several opportunities, but failed to make decisions, so one understands the hesitations of the US. Nevertheless, subject to his illness, he still holds the flag and is still a symbol of the people of Palestine. He has brought them from the refugee camps to at least the possibility of a two-state solution. He is the elected president, and we should do all that we can to work with him—assuming that he is able to resume his duties—rather than to shun him.

My hon. Friend—I think that I can call him that in this context—will know that, towards the end of his presidency, President Clinton expended enormous human and political capital at Camp David on trying to reach a solution, and he came extremely close. Yet, the incoming Bush Administration seemed to want to do anything but become involved. For a year or more, they refused to intervene, if only to be different from Clinton. I hope that there will be no such hiatus or vacuum during the second Administration.