1970: The West’s First Major Test

  • David Carlton


‘A government’s first duty is to negotiate, even with terrorists, rather than immediately sending in the marines, with guns blazing.’1 Thus wrote Edward Heath in his memoirs when seeking to explain why in September 1970 as British Prime Minister he consented to freeing Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled. Moreover, his was a policy recommended by the United States; and it was also acted upon by West Germany and Switzerland, which released six other activists with links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group founded by George Habash in the aftermath of Israel’s seizure of the West Bank in 1967 at the end of a successful war with its Arab neighbours. A pattern of appeasement of terrorism by the West was thus established that arguably culminated three decades later in the catastrophic attack on the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center.


Attorney General Telephone Conversation North Atlantic Treaty Organisation British Constitution Daily Telegraph 
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Copyright information

© David Carlton 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Carlton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

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