Revealed: Mubarak, Thatcher & Reagan discussed Palestinian state (& Mike Pompeo, friend of Israel)

December 01, 2017

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher greets Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at 10 Downing Street on March 14, 1985 where (it was revealed yesterday under the Britain’s Freedom of Information Act) they held secret talks to try and solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.



[Notes below by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns international diplomatic efforts regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I attach four articles below.

The first is about Mike Pompeo and was published in Haaretz last January.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Pompeo would likely replace Rex Tillerson as U.S. secretary of state at some point in the next two weeks.

If Pompeo replaces Tillerson, he will become the first properly pro-Israel U.S. secretary of state in decades.

Pompeo has also taken a hard line on the Iranian and Russian regimes.

Pompeo, presently head of the CIA, has repeatedly called the Iran nuclear deal, forged by Barack Obama and John Kerry, “disastrous,” and says it needs to be rolled back to prevent Iran “getting a nuclear bomb” and to stop the Iranian regime making further advances in its quest to control territory in the Middle East and beyond.



The second article below concerns British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s secret Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Yesterday documents obtained by the BBC via the U.K.’s Freedom of Information Act revealed Mubarak entered secret talks with Thatcher and U.S. President Ronald Reagan to try and solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

According to the documents, Thatcher’s reaction to Mubarak’s suggestion that an independent Palestinian state be created was initially negative. The British premier expressed concern that Palestinian statehood would dangerously jeopardize Israel’s security, allowing the Palestinians to set up a military front on Israel’s border from which to launch further attacks on the Jewish state.


Among past dispatches on Margaret Thatcher see:

The Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher, one of the greats (& Hamas fires rocket at Holocaust memorial service)



In the third article below, Peter Berkowitz, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says comprehensive solutions to the Israel-Palestinians conflict are probably out of reach, but incremental improvements aren’t. He outlines the proposals by Likud legislator Anat Berko for Israel to shift substantial control over a cluster of Arab villages covering approximately 8.5 square miles in municipal Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority.

“These East Jerusalem neighborhoods are now home to some 300,000 Palestinians – and no Jews. Israel incorporated them into municipal Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War, but they were never part of historic Jerusalem.”

“Palestinians would benefit, too. The plan gives East Jerusalem Palestinians the opportunity to join the greater Ramallah and Bethlehem communities. It enlarges the amount of land under Palestinian Authority administration and improves its territorial contiguity.”

(Peter Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Anat Berko, a member of the Knesset for the Likud and a leading counterterrorist expert on female and child suicide bombers, are both long-time subscribers to this email list.)



In the fourth article below, Haaretz’s Rome correspondent reports that convicted Palestinian airline hijacker Leila Khaled has been turned back by security at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and sent back to Amman.

Finally it seems that there is some push back against welcoming Palestinian terrorists in Europe.

Khaled has never expressed remorse for her key role in the infamous hijackings of a TWA flight from Rome-to-Tel Aviv and another flight from Amsterdam to New York in which a crew member was killed. After the second hijacking, Khaled was taken into custody by British police but released by British authorities three weeks later in a controversial swap for dozens of Western hostages.

“Why should we welcome a militant who became famous hijacking planes to destroy the State of Israel, in other words a terrorist who is still proud for what she did,” wrote a columnist in “Corriere Della Sera,” Italy’s largest daily two days ago.

Khaled has regularly made appearances and been lionized by some in Europe. In September, she took part in an event at the European Parliament in Brussels titled “The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Resistance,” at the invitation of far-left Spanish MEPs, in which she again endorsed the “resistance” i.e. killing of [Jewish] civilians.

In an article in 2011, I criticized Katharine Viner (then the Guardian’s deputy editor and now the Guardian’s editor) for comparing Khaled to Audrey Hepburn.

In a glowing portrait, Viner wrote: “The gun held in fragile hands, the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiah, the delicate Audrey Hepburn face refusing to meet your eye.”

I wrote: “I don’t think the families of Khaled’s many victims would have compared her to Audrey Hepburn.”

I added: “Film star Audrey Hepburn said that witnessing the Jewish children in her class being deported, when she was a child in Nazi-occupied Holland, was a defining moment of her life. I doubt if she would appreciate the comparison of a Palestinian terrorist to her by The Guardian.”

-- Tom Gross


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook



1. “Mike Pompeo Has Hawkish History on Israel and Iran” (By Amir Tibon, Haaretz, Jan 24, 2017)
2. “Revealed Mubarak, Thatcher and Reagan secretly negotiated a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict” (Haaretz, Dec 1, 2017)
3. “A plan to start disentangling Israel and the Palestinians” (By Peter Berkowitz
Wall St Journal, Nov. 30, 2017)
4. “Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled barred entry to Italy from Amman” (By Davide Lerner, Haaretz, Nov 30, 2017




Mike Pompeo Has Hawkish History on Israel and Iran
By Amir Tibon
January 24, 2017

Mike Pompeo, who was confirmed on Monday evening by the Senate to run the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, has a record as a strong supporter of the Israeli government and a fierce critic of the Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo’s nomination was approved by a vote of 66-32 on the Senate floor, with the support of all Republican Senators except Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and an additional 15 Democrats, among them Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA.)

Pompeo spent the last five years representing Kansas’ 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and was among the most outspoken Republican critics of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

As recently as last November, mere days after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 elections, Pompeo declared on Twitter, with regards to the Iran nuclear deal, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

The tweet was published before Trump announced Pompeo was his candidate for CIA Director. On Monday night, Pompeo's Twitter account was taken off the social network, in line with CIA policy.

During his confirmation period, Pompeo assured worried Democrats – among them Senator Feinstein – that as CIA Director, he would "objectively monitor" the nuclear deal's implementation by Iran, despite his opposition to the deal while he was a member of Congress. This was one of the reasons that Feinstein eventually decided to vote for him, despite having reservations at the beginning of the confirmation process.

In the summer of 2015, at the height of the debate over the Iran deal, Pompeo said that the deal "won't stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and places Israel at more risk." He also said that the "theory that post-sanctions Iran will moderate is a joke – they want to annihilate Israel, now buying Russian missiles."

Pompeo also criticized the Obama administration for not demanding that Iran cease calling for Israel’s destruction as part of the deal – a demand proposed and promoted by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“Ceasing to call for the destruction of Israel should have been a condition of the Iran Deal – along with release of innocent American hostages,” Pompeo said in a statement.

In November 2015, Pompeo visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, a meeting which he said left a strong impression on him. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a true partner of the American people,” Pompeo said after their discussion at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

“Our conversation was incredibly enlightening as to the true threats facing both Israel and the United States. Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons are incredibly admirable and deeply appreciated.”

During the same visit, Pompeo also met senior officers in the Israeli police and was briefed by them on the “lone wolves Intifada” that included dozens of stabbing and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians across the country. A statement by his office described the Israeli police officers he met as “a group of officers who not only bravely defend the people each day, but have also been targeted themselves by terrorists.”

Pompeo said that “by putting on their uniform, the men and women of the Israeli National Police put a target on their back for terrorists who want to murder law enforcement. In the fight against terrorism, cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been more important.”

Two weeks after his visit, Pompeo released a statement condemning “the ongoing violence in the State of Israel,” explaining that “I can tell you that the Israeli people and the Israeli National Police are demonstrating admirable restraint in the face of unspeakably cruel attacks.”

He added that “We cannot let these acts of terror go on any longer. Those who carry out, encourage, or defend this violence should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.”

During his confirmation hearing, Pompeo didn’t speak at length about Israel, but he did take a tough line against Russia, more than the one promoted by the President who appointed him. Pompeo called Russia a major threat to the United States, and said that Vladimir Putin’s country “has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

His strong stance on this issue was among the reasons that 15 Democratic Senators voted for him, in addition to a number of Republicans who have been skeptical of Trump’s foreign policy priorities.



Revealed Mubarak, Thatcher and Reagan Secretly Negotiated a Solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
December 1, 2017

Declassified documents show Egypt’s ex-president and Britain’s Thatcher discussed a resettlement plan for Palestinians fleeing conflict in Lebanon, on the condition of Palestinian statehood

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held a discreet meeting with Britain’s then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982 in which he said his country could take in displaced Palestinians fleeing [Sunni Muslim and Christian militias during] the civil war in Lebanon, on the condition that a solution would be found to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Rare documents dating back to the high-profile and secret meeting held thirty five years were obtained by the BBC via the U.K.’s Freedom of Information Act and revealed on Thursday.

According to the declassified records, Mubarak had also met with ally and then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan to discuss an American push to relocate Palestinians trying to escape war-torn southern Lebanon to Egypt.

Following that parley, Mubarak flew to the U.K. to meet Thatcher, who he then told he would only accept such an endeavor “as part of a comprehensive framework for a solution” to the Palestinian problem; in other words, Mubarak stipulated the move on a deal that would end the Arab-Israeli conflict and work to establish an independent Palestinian state.

Mubarak also told the U.S. ambassador to Egypt at the time, Philip Habib, that “by making the Palestinians leave Lebanon” without striking a deal to resolve the conflict, “the United States risked a dozen difficult problems in various countries.”

Thatcher’s reaction was initially negative. The British premier expressed concern that Palestinian statehood would actively jeopardize Israel’s security. She was also worried that Palestinians would be encouraged to put military personnel along the borders of a theoretical Palestinian state close to Israel.

Thatcher also told the Egyptian president that “even the establishment of a Palestinian state could not lead to the absorption of the whole of the Palestinian diaspora.” But, Egypt countered Thatcher’s reservations, with the country’s then-Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Boutros Ghali telling the British prime minister that “the Palestinians will have their own passports, however, and they will take different positions.

“We should not only have an Israeli state and a Jewish diaspora, but a small Palestinian state and Palestinian diaspora,” Ghali added.

The Egyptians also tried to reassure Thatcher that a Palestinian state would be small in size and would not pose a political, regional threat.

Another hurdle Thatcher foresaw was that Russia, an avid supporter of the Palestinian cause even prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, would try to intervene in the emerging political process.

Mubarak’s political adviser, Osama al-Baz, told Thatcher that the Palestinians were not likely to seek support from Moscow. Thatcher’s fear, he told her, “was a misconception.” He insisted that a “Palestinian state would never be dominated by the Soviet Union. It would be economically dependent on the oil-rich Arabs who were vehemently opposed to a pro-Soviet state.”

“Saudi Arabia for one will never allow it,” al-Baz predicted.

Trying to ease Thatcher’s concerns, the documents show that Mubarak told Thatcher that “a Palestinian state will never be a threat to Israel. The Palestinians in Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf will never return to a Palestinian state.”

The Palestinian state discussed between Britain and Egypt was slated to operate in a confederation with Jordan, and according to that plan the Palestinians would remain connected to Jordan and “evolve within 10 to 15 years into a demilitarized Palestinian state,” Egyptian adviser al-Baz suggested.

But while the Palestinians did join a confederation with Jordan, conflicts with Israel did not abate in the following decades. The proposed plans did not bear fruit, mostly due to the tense reality on the ground and because of reluctance on the British side.

The issue of a Palestinian statehood remains a point of contention between the Israeli government and Palestinian factions in the West Bank and in Gaza, which are now forming an accord to end their decade-long dispute and forge a united leadership for the Palestinian people.



A Plan to Start Disentangling Israel and the Palestinians
Comprehensive solutions to the conflict are probably out of reach. Incremental improvements aren’t.
By Peter Berkowitz
Wall Street Journal
Nov. 30, 2017

For two decades and stretching across the past three presidencies, the U.S. has sought a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All attempts failed. All made matters worse. Yet the Trump administration is reportedly readying new ideas for what Jason D. Greenblatt, the president’s chief negotiator, called a “lasting peace agreement.”

It would be wiser to focus on proposals for partial measures that stand a reasonable chance of improving conditions for both sides. The detailed plan on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desk for the division of the Jerusalem municipal area, presented by a team led by Likud legislator Anat Berko, is a good place to begin.

Bitter experience counsels incrementalism. Bill Clinton’s quest for a conflict-ending deal culminated in 2000 with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s launching the second intifada. The breakdown in 2008 of George W. Bush’s push for enduring peace was followed by escalating rocket and missile fire from Gaza on Israeli civilians, which compelled Israel to undertake three military incursions in six years into the Hamas-governed territory. The repeated diplomatic initiatives of Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry raised expectations, dashed hopes, and likely contributed to 2015’s so-called knife intifada, which flared in Jerusalem after the collapse of the Obama administration’s vain pursuit of a final settlement.

In the wake of these setbacks, Ms. Berko’s plan reflects a pragmatic assessment of diplomacy’s limits and the urgency of action. She proposes to shift substantial control over a cluster of Arab villages covering approximately 8.5 square miles in municipal Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority. These East Jerusalem neighborhoods are now home to some 300,000 Palestinians – and no Jews. Israel incorporated them into municipal Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War, but they were never part of historic Jerusalem.

Ms. Berko, whom I met in Israel more than a decade ago, believes Israel can’t wait for an all-embracing deal. Separation now from the East Jerusalem neighborhoods would significantly reduce the number of West Bank Palestinians – between two million and three million live beyond the Green Line, Israel’s pre-1967 eastern boundary – subject to direct Israeli rule.

In moving Israel’s security barrier rather than relocating people, the partial withdrawal Ms. Berko contemplates would benefit both sides. Israel would see a sizable increase in Jerusalem’s Jewish majority, whose total population today is about 865,000. Withdrawal would reduce Israel’s economic burden – on the order of $570 million to $850 million a year – to provide welfare and educational entitlements to Palestinian “permanent residents.” These Palestinians for the most part have chosen not to vote in municipal elections or become Israeli citizens, though they are eligible. On the whole they pay vastly less in taxes than they receive in benefits. Relocating the fence would also improve Israel’s security by separating it from an often-hostile population that fosters terrorism.

Palestinians would benefit, too. The plan gives East Jerusalem Palestinians the opportunity to join the greater Ramallah and Bethlehem communities. It enlarges the amount of land under Palestinian Authority administration and improves its territorial contiguity.

Ms. Berko’s proposal is not the first time someone has suggested separating East Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods from Israel, but it is the first proposal to come from the Israeli right. She is a retired Israel Defense Forces lieutenant colonel, holds a doctorate in criminology, and is the author of a 2012 book on female and child suicide bombers. Mr. Netanyahu handpicked her in 2015 to join Likud’s parliamentary list, and she serves on the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. She has credibility on national security and an ability to see the big picture thanks to her military background, her professional expertise in counterterrorism and Palestinian culture and politics, and her relative independence from intraparty power struggles.

Ms. Berko told me that her team of senior national-security figures, lawyers and cartographers worked on the plan for nine months. “Security,” she emphasized, “is our first consideration.”

Under the plan, Jerusalem would remain Israel’s capital. Israel would exercise sovereignty over the Old City, Temple Mount and other holy sites while scrupulously guaranteeing freedom of worship. It would annex the large settlement blocs around Jerusalem. And, mindful of the heightened exposure to rockets and missiles after completely withdrawing from southern Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005, Israel would retain ultimate security responsibility for the East Jerusalem villages.

The plan faces formidable obstacles. A significant segment of Mr. Netanyahu’s party and a good portion of his broader right-wing coalition government are likely to oppose it – at least initially. They are committed to a unified greater Jerusalem on nationalist grounds and competing security calculations.

Dividing greater Jerusalem also gives rise to a vexing legal issue: By what authority does Israel strip East Jerusalem Palestinians of entitlements and voting rights they have possessed for decades?

And West Bank Palestinians will be skeptical. They won’t object to the return of a small section of land they believe is theirs. But as former Palestinian diplomat Hasan Abdel Rahman told me recently, younger Palestinians increasingly despair of a two-state solution and instead set their sights on full citizenship in a single, binational state: “If all the land Israel now controls is not divided in the short run, it will not be divided in the long run.”

Still, all parties would be wise to examine seriously Ms. Berko’s proposal, and others in the same spirit, that would gradually reduce the entanglement of Israeli and Palestinian political destinies. It may be the Trump administration’s best prospect for simultaneously advancing Israel’s long-term interests as a liberal, democratic and Jewish state and the Palestinians’ interest in greater self-rule in preparation for a state of their own.



Palestinian Hijacker Leila Khaled Barred Entry to Italy from Amman
Italian press reports that security at Rome airport send her back to Amman; says decision was ‘not political’
By Davide Lerner
November 30, 2017

ROME – Renowned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant Leila Khaled was stopped by Italian border police in Rome after she disembarked a flight from Amman, according to Italian press reports. She was expected in the Italian capital as well as in the southern city of Naples to give talks on the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the PFLP, but was sent back to Amman.

Italy’s Department of Public Security issued a statement insisting that the stopping of Khaled was a purely administrative act, not a political decision. “The Jordanian citizen arrived to Rome from Amman without a valid Schengen visa [allowing passage through European borders], and was sent back in compliance with national and international Schengen regulations,” the statement read.


Khaled’s arrival had already sparked controversy in Italy, as she took part in the hijacking of airlines in 1969 and 1970. “Why should we welcome a militant who became famous hijacking planes to destroy the State of Israel, in other words a terrorist who is still proud for what she did,” wrote prominent pro-Israeli columnist Pierluigi Battista in “Corriere Della Sera,” Italy’s largest daily. He endorsed the Italian Jewish communities’ vocal protest against the arrival of the Palestinian militant, who has become an icon of Palestinian armed resistance against Israel.

Now that Khaled’s entry to Italy has been blocked by Fiumicino Airport border security, pro-Palestinian organizations are voicing their outrage. Napoli Direzione Opposta (Naples Opposite Direction), the association that was due to host Khaled at the event in Naples, wrote on its Facebook page that “this episode shows how Italian institutions are submissive to the Zionist lobby and the Mossad.”

According to Riccardo Pacifici, former president of the Jewish community in Rome, “Italian authorities acted rightfully against a member of a terrorist organization which is also on the blacklist of the EU; it would be naïve to think that the decision was non-political,” Pacifici said.

“We should welcome in Italy all Palestinians who are willing to discuss the creation of a state next to Israel, not those who advocate the creation of a state instead of Israel, like the terrorist Khaled.”

Khaled largely owes her fame to a series of photographs depicting her as an attractive young female hijacker, smiling with a kaffiyeh over her head and a rifle in her hands. The most famous photo was taken in the aftermath of a plane hijacking of 1969, when a Rome-to-Tel Aviv TWA flight was forced to divert to Damascus by a PFLP commando squad, of which Khaled was part. There were no casualties in the attack.

The following year Khaled and hijacking partner Patrick Arguello attempted to hijack an Amsterdam-to-New York El Al flight, but did not succeed. During a struggle onboard, Arguello shot a crew member and was shot to death by security. Khaled was taken into custody by British police but released three weeks later in a swap for dozens of Western hostages.

Khaled, 73, has maintained an uncompromising attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In recent statements published on the PFLP website, she denounced all initiatives that might lead to a “normalization” of Israeli-Palestinian relations.


She set off controversy in September when she took part in an event at the European Parliament in Brussels titled “The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Resistance.” The event was organized by far-left Spanish MEPs.

“The European Parliament GUE group [European United Left] used the democratic institution they were elected to, and which represents all of Europe’s citizens, to spread their whitewashing and hate-filled agenda,” the Brussels pro-Israel lobby Europe Israel Public Affairs told Haaretz at the time.

Following Khaled’s participation in the conference, Antonio Tajani, the conservative Italian president of the European Parliament, proposed banning from the European Parliament anyone who had been involved in terrorism, which the Parliament endorsed.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.