HC Deb 18 March 1953 vol 513 cc24-6
44. Major Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will raise in the appropriate United Nations Committee, the problem of the Mount Scopus demilitarised area in Jordan; whether he is aware that since June, 1950, there have been more than 50 recorded instances of firing by Jewish police in this area, as well as other abuses of the agreement of 7th July, 1948, many of which have been the cause of regular protests by the Jordan Government, and none of which has resulted in any action by the United Nations Chief of Staff; and why the agreement of 7th July, 1948, did not automatically lapse in accordance with paragraph 1 when hostilities ended between Israel and Jordan.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)

The proper authority for dealing with the points raised in my hon. and gallant Friend's Question is the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, which is responsible through its Chief-of-Staff to the Security Council.

There have for some time past been disputes between Israel and Jordan in connection with the demilitarised zone of Mount Scopus and we have done what we could by good offices to provide solutions for them. Under the cease-fire agreement of 1948, the United Nations is responsible for the security of the area. In Her Majesty's Government's view any request which the United Nations Chief-of-Staff may make to the parties should be complied with without unnecessary delay.

The question of whether the cease-fire agreement of the 7th July, 1948, was superseded by the General Armistice Agreement signed between Israel and Jordan on 3rd April, 1949, raises intricate legal issues affecting both Jordan's and Israel's claims to the area and the part played by the Truce Supervision Organisation. As we are not members of that Organisation, these are not matters for Her Majesty's Government to decide.

Major Beamish

Is my right hon. Friend aware that among the many unfortunate consequences of the so-called Demilitarisation of the Mount Scopus area is the very unhappy position of the British graveyard in that area, and can he say a word about that?

Mr. Eden

I do know about that. I have had representations from various sources about it. We have approached the Israel Government about the matter, but it affects the Commonwealth Governments as well as ourselves. I am sorry to say they have not yet found themselves able to remove the mines which are the chief cause of anxiety.

Mr. Janner

Would the right hon. Gentleman direct the attention of the appropriate Committee to Article 8 of the General Armistice Agreement between Jordan and Israel which provided that there should be deliberations between Jordan and Israel, or their representatives, so that the normal functioning of the cultural and humanitarian institutions at Mount Scopus shall be accessible? Does he realise that it is a very serious and disgraceful thing that these institutions are not being used, and will he do what he can to help in this matter?

Mr. Eden

I have indeed done what I can, but I do not think any discredit can lie upon Her Majesty's Government because an organisation of which we are not a member has failed to bring about better relations between Israel and Jordan.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that any further attempt on his part to resolve the problem as a part of a wider settlement would have the general support of all sides of the House? In the meantime, would it not be advisable for the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) to couch his Questions in a less provocative fashion?

Mr. Eden

I do not think I should like to set myself up as a judge of provocation in any differences between Israel and the Arab States.