Sir Willie Morris, former British ambassador to Egypt, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, said yesterday recent events have increased the likelihood of a full-scale war in the Middle East.
Morris said in a seminar on "The Economics of Middle East Oil" that increasing Western reliance on imported oil and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan "could lead to major miscalculations and a crisis in the Middle East."
"The tensions are more dangerous now than they have been in the last couple of years," he added.
Morris said the effect of the Camp David accords signed last year by Israel and Egypt were limited. "You cannot isolate the Egypt-Israeli peace settlement from the Arab-Israeli problem," he added.
Morris said it was important for the United States to strengthen diplomatic ties with the Arab nations, adding, "Israel's ability to survieve depends on the West's ability to maintain ties with the Arabs."
The former ambassador called on Israel to accept Egypt's peace conditions and recognize a Palestinian state on the West Bank. "What Egypt was offering Israel is the price it is eventually going to have to pay for peace," Morris said.
Morris credited American diplomacy with "a degree of success in moving toward a comprehensive peace." But, he added, results of diplomacy in the last year and a half have been "meagre."
Morris said the role of the United Kingdom in the Middle East peace process is to give support to the United States whenever it can. English involvement in the Middle East, Morris added, is like a book on snakes in Ireland which begins "there are no snakes in Ireland.