HC Deb 17 March 1958 vol 584 cc898-9
8. Mr. Beswick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to ascertain the willingness, or otherwise, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to join with the three major Western Powers in a guarantee of the present frontiers of the Middle East, including those of Israel, against any change by force.

Commander Noble

It will be recalled that in a Note to the Soviet Government last year, Her Majesty's Government pointed out that the Arab-Israel dispute was the main focus of tension in the Middle East. The Soviet Government's reply did not accept this view and gave no indication of willingness to contribute towards reducing this cause of tension.

Mr. Beswick

Is it not a fact that on at least two occasions through Mr. Khrushchev and through the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the Soviet Government did indicate their willingness to discuss this matter of frontiers and a standstill of arms in that area? Surely this is a matter we ought to pursue, or are we to understand that the Foreign Office is doing absolutely nothing in the matter?

Commander Noble

I think that what the hon. Gentleman suggests must be looked at against the background of the Soviet reply of 3rd September last year, in which they said that the United Kingdom Government's view of the situation did not correspond with the facts and that the real basis for a peaceful settlement would be established if the three Western Powers ceased to use Israel as a tool for their colonialist policy.

Mr. Janner

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there is a considerable amount of anxiety about certain statements which have been made recently by the Government in relation to the frontiers, and will he make it clear that, so far as frontiers are concerned, it would be absurd to ask Israel to do anything in the nature of giving up any portion of its territory which altogether is only a very small piece of land?

Commander Noble

I think the Government have made their position quite clear on a number of occasions recently. I do not think it arises out of this Question.