HC Deb 19 December 1966 vol 738 cc991-3
23. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further action Great Britain intends to take at the United Nations and elsewhere over the border clashes between Arab countries and Israel.

40. Mr. Walters

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy for reducing tension in the Middle East.

51. Mr. Colin Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what additional steps Her Majesty's Government intend to take to help avoid further clashes between Israel and her Arab neighbours.

54. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government have not altered their policy towards the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 and that they still regard themselves bound by it.

66. Mr. Henig

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government still considers itself bound by the terms of the tri-partite declaration to guarantee the frontiers of Israel and her neighbours; and if he will now approach the Governments of France and the United States of America with a view to a further joint declaration that no resort to force to alter in either direction the present frontiers between the State of Israel and the neighbouring Arab States will be tolerated.

Mr. George Brown

Again I apologise for the inevitable length of the Answers.

We regard the United Nations as being primarily responsible for the maintenance of peace in the area. It is our policy to support the United Nations in fulfilling this task and to support every effort made to improve its peacekeeping machinery. As regards the Tripartite Declaration of 1950, it was, mainly, as its official title said, about the supply of arms to Israel and the Arab States. The situation in the area has radically altered since then; several years later, the Soviet Union became a major supplier of arms to the area. But today, as in 1950, we are opposed to an arms race in the Middle East and concerned that there should be peace and stability there. We deplore the use or the threat of force in the area, and subversion, hostile propaganda and terrorism, which have been condemned by many resolutions of the United Nations.

Mr. Winnick

While I appreciate in full the Answer that has been given, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he can say what possibilites there are of reaching real agreement to control the supply of arms to the Middle East and especially the politically explosive places? Can he say whether we are still sending arms to both sides?

Mr. Brown

We are exercising all the influence we can in the United Nations to bring about a limitation not only of the arms race in that area but also of the tension there. As to the sale of arms, we are keeping them all under control and do nothing which will add to the tension.

Mr. Jackson

Can my right hon. Friend say whether Her Majesty's Government are considering the possibility of extending the United Nations Observer Corps along the Syrian-Israeli frontier? Surely that is one way of keeping down tension.

Mr. Brown

That is a point worth bearing in mind, but it was not along that frontier that the recent trouble occurred.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

The right hon. Gentleman has made some comments about the 1950 Declaration. Do Her Majesty's Government still regard themselves as being bound by it?

Mr. Brown

The comments I have made were not only in accord with what we have said but with what Mr. Harold Macmillan said in, I believe, 1963.

Mr. Lubbock

Can the right hon. Gentleman say categorically whether Britain will stand by her undertaking, given in concert with her allies, to guarantee the frontiers of Israel?

Mr. Brown

The situation has changed a good deal since the Tripartite Declaration was made and I repeat that Mr. Macmillan made a statement which superseded it. We have not gone beyond that.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Since the present arms race and the declaration of the Syrian Government that they will pay no regard to the United Nations are creating a most dangerous situation in the Middle East, will my right hon. Friend try to promote a meeting at the highest level of the Security Council to secure radical arrangements for bringing this dangerous situation to an end?

Mr. Brown

Whether that is the appropriate forum, I do not know, but my right hon. Friend may rest assured that I will do everything I can. As he knows, in the Security Council recently we played a very prominent part on this subject.

Lord Balniel

The right hon. Gentleman says that we are trying at the United Nations to assist in the reduction of tension. What specific initiative have the Government taken with the Soviet Union and the United States so as to secure a balanced limitation of arms in this area?

Mr. Brown

I am not sure that such a possibility exists. There are other causes of the difficulties in the area and we are taking initiatives with them all.