HC Deb 04 May 1970 vol 801 cc28-9
35. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will call a conference of Commonwealth countries most directly affected by the closure of the Suez Canal to discuss possible claims for compensation against Israel for the losses incurred by its closure.

Mr. M. Stewart

No, Sir.

Mr. Hooley

As the Suez Canal has twice in a decade been closed by Israeli aggression, and as it remains closely solely on account of the unlawful presence of Israeli military forces on Egyptian territory, is it not reasonable that the international community should present a bill to the Israeli Government for the losses incurred on this account?

Mr. Stewart

I do not think that it is any good trying to ascribe the closure of the Suez Canal to the account of any one Government. It is closed as a result of the dispute. What we must try to do, therefore, is to seek a political settlement of the dispute. That is what Her Majesty's Government are trying to do.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Does the Foreign Secretary now think that perhaps the Labour Party was wrong in 1956?

Mr. Stewart

No. I think it is now universally agreed, even by some hon. Members opposite, that the Government at the time were wrong. I am afraid we are still dealing with some of the problems they left us.

Mr. Shinwell

What was the amount of compensation paid by President Nasser when he seized private property, namely, the Suez Canal, several years ago? Has he paid any compensation to the private owners? Does he intend to?

Mr. Stewart

Perhaps my right hon. Friend will table that question. I think that the answer is "No".

Sir F. Bennett

Will the Foreign Secretary take this occasion to define precisely in whose interest it is, nationally speaking, that the Suez Canal should be reopened at present?

Mr. Stewart

For the Suez Canal to be reopened there would have to be a proper political settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute. I should have thought that, as the two things would go together, that would be in the interests of everyone.

Back to