HC Deb 20 May 1968 vol 765 cc8-9
7. Mr. Walters

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest situation in the Middle East.

46. Viscount Lambton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the position in the Middle East.

Mr. M. Stewart

Her Majesty's Government have been pleased to note that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Middle East, Dr. Jarring, has secured the agreement of the three principal parties to continue his current contacts with them in New York. I do not think it would be appropriate for me to make a further statement at this juncture.

Mr. Walters

Should the Jarring mission fail, have the Government any alternative proposals for reaching a settlement? For instance, do they have a view about the proposals mentioned in The Times of 17th May, which envisaged temporary international custodianship of those parts of Palestine, including Jerusalem, which have been occupied by Israel after the June war?

Mr. Stewart

We have considered this proposal and other proposals, and what line of action might be necessary if Dr. Jarring's mission should not be successful. Fortunately, at present this is hypothetical.

Viscount Lambton

Will the Foreign Secretary comment on the continued Russian infiltration in the Middle East, including the large-scale supply of arms to the Yemen and the proposed introduction of a naval base in the Gulf?

Mr. Stewart

I do not think that comment arises out of this Question.

Mr. Henig

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that in the long term the only real hope for peace must lie in direct negotiations between the two sides rather than by mediation by Dr. Jarring or anyone else? Will the Government, therefore, do all in their power to press on countries in the Middle East the importance of taking at least the step of starting some form of negotiation between themselves?

Mr. Stewart

I think that my hon. Friend will agree that the objective he has in mind could not be reached immediately. I believe that what Dr. Jarring is now doing could be helpful to that end. At this moment, therefore, I have taken the view that the best service we can render is to urge on the parties concerned that they should give all support to Dr. Jarring's work. Of course, further steps would be necessary later on.

Sir Dingle Foot

Will my right hon. Friend reiterate the Government's view, expressed at the United Nations by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown), that there can be no satisfactory settlement without a withdrawal from the territories which were occupied last summer?

Mr. Stewart

I would agree with that view, but the danger of stopping short of agreement with that is that the United Nations resolution referred to a good many other things besides withdrawal. What we want, I take it, is a settlement in which Israel and her neighbours can live side by side with such relations between them as ought to exist between fellow members of the United Nations. That was also involved in the United Nations resolution.