HC Deb 11 April 1951 vol 486 cc999-1000
22. Professor Savory

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British Government have considered the complaint of Egypt as to the bombing of Syrian Army posts by Israeli aircraft; and, as a signatory to the Tripartite Declaration of May, 1950, relating to security in the Middle East, what was the reply of His Majesty's Government.

Mr. H. Morrison

On 4th April, seven Israel police were killed in a clash with Syrian elements in the area of El Hamma, which lies south-east of Lake Galilee, and in one of the zones demilitarised under the Israel-Syrian Armistice Agreement. As a retaliatory measure Israel aircraft bombed positions on Syrian territory on 5th April. On receipt of this information His Majesty's Ministers at Tel Aviv and Damascus were instructed to press the Israel and Syrian Governments respectively to cease all offensive operations immediately, and to withdraw their troops, if any, from the demilitarised zone.

On 6th April, the Under-Secretary of the Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs made an oral communication to His Majesty's Embassy at Cairo to the effect that the Egyptian Government viewed the Israel action with concern and wished to draw the attention of His Majesty's Government, as one of the signatories of the Tripartite Declaration, to the seriousness of the situation. His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Cairo was instructed to inform the Egyptian Government in reply that His Majesty's Government shared their concern and to notify them of the instructions sent to His Majesty's Ministers at Tel Aviv and Damascus.

Mr. Janner

In view of the cold-blooded murder of these seven policemen and also of the fact that others were taken prisoner, would my right hon. Friend see that the United Nations acts to prevent Syria from taking further action of this description? Will he also ask Egypt, when she interferes in these matters, to interfere on the right side and not on the wrong side?

Mr. Morrison

If I may say so, in these matters concerning Israel and the Arab States, with whom His Majesty's Government are anxious to live in friendship—all of them—I would beg all hon. Members to try not to be too biased in their statements.

Mr. Pickthorn

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, will he think it right to query the use of question-begging words like "murder" before all the facts involved in this very tragic and regrettable incident have become plain?

Mr. Morrison

I do not wish to respond to the hon. Gentleman's desire to get me into trouble with my hon. Friend. I gather this matter is to be the subject of international investigation on the initiative of the parties concerned and I think that at this stage the more we can be impartial the better.

Mr. J. Langford-Holt

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any military activity is going on in the area at the moment?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot be quite sure, but I think not.