PRIME MINISTER – MIDDLE EAST – 10 April 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: Some people view Yasser Arafat as being opposed to suicide bombings but unable to prevent them; others see him as being in favour of them and unwilling to prevent them. The Prime Minister has access to better sources of information than most of us: to which of those views does he subscribe?

[The Prime Minister: I subscribe to the view that, if there is a proper peace process, the Palestinians are willing to engage in it. Although I concur with criticisms of the Palestinian Authority's inability, or refusal, to control terrorism properly, we have to recognise that we will be dealing with them, and that we cannot choose which of their members we will deal with. The truthful answer to the hon. Gentleman's point is that the real danger is that, as long as the bloodshed and violence continue, a growing indifference will come about – in fact, it is happening – to innocent blood being spilt on both sides.]