HC Deb 12 February 1958 vol 582 cc387-9
43. Mr. du Cann

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which of the existing frontiers of Israel are considered by Her Majesty's Government to be final and internationally accepted and which are not; and to what extent the principles of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 apply to the existing frontiers of Israel.

52 and 53. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) to what extent the Tripartite Declaration is valid in respect of those countries bordering on Israel which have accepted it, and in respect of those which have not, respectively;

(2) which countries bordering on Israel have accepted the Tripartite Declaration.

Commander Noble

Her Majesty's Government, as indeed I believe is the case with all other members of the United Nations, consider that Israel's existing frontiers are governed by the terms of the general Armistice Agreements signed between Israel and her neighbours. These Agreements are explicitly without prejudice to a final settlement.

The Tripartite Declaration applies, with regard to Israel, to these Armistice frontiers.

Israel and all the Arab States concerned, in the course of 1950 gave assurances in regard to that part of the Declaration which speaks of arms supplies, to the effect that they had no aggressive intentions.

With regard to the portion of the Tripartite Declaration which deals with the violation of existing armistic lines, as I pointed out on 26th November, 1956, the Declaration is a statement of intent between the three co-signatories, and was not negotiated with any outside country. None of the Middle East States concerned has expressly accepted the implications of the Declaration so far as its defence is concerned. On the other hand, none of them apart from Egypt has taken the stand that it would not accept the implications of the Declaration.

I think the position with regard to Egypt was fully explained by my right hon. and learned Friend on 1st April, 1957. Her Majesty's Government are, however, consulting their co-signatories to the Declaration for their views on the possible effect which the projected Egyptian—Syrian Union may have with regard to the undertakings under the Declaration which the three parties have towards each other.

Mr. du Cann

While thanking my right hon. and gallant Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that there is a strong view, which will perhaps be reinforced by what he has said, that the Tripartite Declaration is of greater academic than practical interest and that there is, therefore, a view that a fresh approach should be made to the whole of this problem in order to reduce tension? Would not my right hon. and gallant Friend agree that the fresh approach might take the form of the great Powers guaranteeing the frontiers of Israel and also guaranteeing the frontiers of the Arab countries bordering upon Israel?

Commander Noble

As I said in my Answer, we are consulting our cosignatories as to whether recent or future developments in the Middle East might need some alteration in our Declaration.

Mr. Bevan

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the proposition which has just been put by his hon. Friend has been made on several occasions from this side of the House—that there should be a double guarantee, which does not rule out the possibility of minor rectifications of the frontier where absurdities are manifest, but which does rule out any substantial alteration of the territory of Israel, but which nevertheless would give a double guarantee, one to the Arab States against Israel and the other to Israel against the Arab States?

Commander Noble

Her Majesty's Government will certainly bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Shinwell

Could not the subject be made one of the main topics at the forthcoming Summit Conference?

Commander Noble

The agenda for the Summit Conference has yet to be agreed.

Mr. Shinwell

Is not the opinion of th right hon. and gallant Gentleman that this important topic could be made one of the main subjects at the forthcoming Summit Conference?

Commander Noble

It could be made one of the main subjects.