HC Deb 17 November 1969 vol 791 cc843-6
29. Sir T. Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what indications have been given by the Israeli Government of their willingness to implement the 1967 Security Coun cil resolution; and if he will make a statement on the progress towards a settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Mr. M. Stewart

The Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. Abba Eban, spoke about Israel's acceptance of the 1967 Security Council resolution in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on 19th September. The full text of Mr. Eban's speech is in the Library of the House.

Sir T. Beamish

What success has the right hon. Gentleman had in persuading the Israeli Government that a United Nations guarantee of new frontiers after withdrawal from Arab-occupied lands and an end of the state of war could be relied on next time?

Mr. Stewart

I think that it is well known that the Israeli Government's doubts about the certainty of such a a guarantee are one of the difficulties in reaching a settlement. But this is by no means the whole story in reaching a settlement. What we must do through the four-Power talks and Dr. Jarring is to try to make out a workable settlement on the lines of the Security Council resolution.

Mr. Rose

Is it not right that Mr. Eban has also said that nothing is not negotiable, and that the Israelis have modified their position and agreed to Rhodes-type talks, which were subsequently dismissed by the Egyptian Government? Does my right hon. Friend agree that recent bloodand-fire speeches do not help to lower the temperature in the area?

Mr. Stewart

My hon. Friend is quite correct on his first point. He also correctly describes the Israeli Government's attitude to what are called Rhodes-type talks. There seems to be some misunderstanding and disagreement about exactly what that phrase means. As to the speech of President Nasser to which my hon. Friend refers, a speech of that kind is unhelpful and drives home how important it is to obtain a settlement before the danger becomes more acute.

Viscount Lambton

What is the British interpretation of the wording of the 1967 resolution? Does the right hon. Gentleman understand it to mean that the Israelis should withdraw from all territory taken in the late war?

Mr. Stewart

No, Sir. That is not the phrase used in the resolution. The resolution speaks of secure and recognised boundaries. Those words must be read concurrently with the statement on withdrawal.

Mr. Mayhew

Can my right hon. Friend say precisely how far the Israelis have discussed the question of security if and when they return to their old territories? is not this a case where perhaps the French and British could take an initiative, since the Americans and Russians seem to have become bogged down in commitment to one side or the other?

Mr. Stewart

There has been some progress in the talks between the Soviet Union and the United States. I agree that it would be desirable for the Four to resume their talks to try to work out at least the beginning of a settlement that would conform to everything in the Security Council resolution.

Mr. Longden

Is not the situation in the Middle East drifting towards inevitable disaster? Cannot the British Government take an initiative? Would not an additional guarantee such as that suggested in my later Question on the Order Paper increase the confidence of Israel that any settlement would be honoured?

Mr. Stewart

It would be better to wait until we reach that Question.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the recent declaration by Colonel Nasser that the Middle East problem can be resolved only by force, and the attitude of another Arab Government, that of Libya, towards Great Britain, is not the United Nations resolution just a farce? Will my right hon. Friend take into account the fact that the only country in the Middle East friendly disposed towards Great Britain is the State of Israel?

Mr. Stewart

There has been some criticism in the House of hon. Members trying to advance their Questions by linking them with others. There are Questions later about Libya. I have already expressed my view about President Nasser's speech. I do not believe, despite that speech, that we should regard a disaster as inevitable, and certainly we should not set aside the Security Council resolution as the basis of a settlement. If any settlement that is workable and will last is reached, it will be broadly on the basis of that resolution.

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