HC Deb 26 October 1953 vol 518 cc2424-6

Compliance with and enforcement of the General Armistice Agreements, with special reference to recent acts of violence and, in particular, to the incident at Qibya on 14th–15th October. Report by the Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation."

This Report will, therefore, no doubt cover incidents on both sides of the frontier.

Mr. Silverman

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that these terms of reference are altogether too narrow? Will he bear in mind that all these incidents, on both sides, arose out of the continuance of a state of war between the two countries and that that war was, in the first place, an act of unprovoked aggression by the State of Jordan on a new State struggling to establish its existence? Does he not consider that the best service to peace in this area that the Security Council can render is to persuade the Arab States to recognise as a fact that the State of Israel is there to remain?

Mr. Eden

I think that the terms of reference are the best that can be devised. They begin by saying: Compliance with and enforcement of the General Armistice Agreements. And they go on to refer to the incidents in Qibya. It would be impossible to ask the United Nations to ignore Qibya, which is something out of the ordinary even in the sad catalogue of events that have occurred on either side of the frontier. In my own view, this is just about the fairest method of presenting the matter that can be devised. I know that some of the Arab States resented it as likely to slur over the Qibya incident and lose it in the wider issue. On the other hand, Israel would like it to be more general. Personally, I think that it is just about right.

Mr. Bellenger

Until it is possible to come to a more substantial and lasting arrangement, will the right hon. Gentleman do his best to impress upon these two countries that incidents such as the recent incident really shock the world and do not conduce to the help being given to either country which both should expect?

Mr. Eden

I have done my best and I am a little discouraged to think that one of this country's [...] Ministers seemed to think that our observations were of no account, and said so in a foreign country.

Major Legge-Bourke

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether one of the factors borne in mind by Her Majesty's representative in the United Nations when this matter comes up will be the utter powerlessness of the Mixed Armistice Commission to enforce any of their decisions? Will my right hon. Friend instruct our representative to ensure that some improvement in that respect at least is achieved?

Mr. Eden

Does my hon. and gallant Friend mean in the method of supervision?

Major Legge-Bourke


Mr. Eden

Yes, that is very important. It is not easy to arrange, as my hon and gallant Friend knows.

Mr. Shinwell

Dismissing the quite irrelevant observations which the right hon. Gentleman made about a statement made in a foreign country about the United Kingdom, on which, apparently, he has quite inaccurate information, may I ask whether he will convey to our representative on the Security Council the desirability of escaping, as far as practicable, from past incidents and making a positive approach to the solution of this very vexed and inflammatory problem? Is not that the desirable thing to do?

Mr. Eden

I gladly welcome the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he did not make observations criticising Her Majesty's Government. I welcome that very much. As to the terms of reference, and as to getting away from past incidents to the future, as the right hon. Gentleman and the House know, it is quite impossible to have the discussion now in the atmosphere of what has happened at Qibya without the United Nations taking some account of occurrences there. What we have to do is to balance that with the attempt to try to get a wider settlement of the whole thing.

Mr. Janner

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider advising our representative to see whether it is possible for Jordan and Israel to come together themselves with a view to discussing peace terms and also see that these incidents, which the Mixed Armistice Commission have already decided on—159 on one side and 25 on the other—are put in their proper perspective when this matter has been dealt with?

Mr. Eden

As far as I could, I have looked up references to earlier incidents and they seem to me to balance fairly evenly on the whole. I know that Israel say they do not, and that Jordan say they do not, but I am trying, as far as I can, to take an impartial view. At any rate, their numbers add up to very nearly the same. But this new incident puts the matter in a different complexion and we have to admit that that is how it is regarded by a great number of countries. Whether the hon. Member agrees or not, it is in the light of that that I have to try to work.