HC Deb 22 April 1971 vol 815 cc1352-3
25. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that Mr. Menachem Beigin, leader of the opposition in the Israeli Knesset was responsible for the massacre of Deir Yasin; and whether it is his policy to grant visas to those who have perpetrated war crimes and gone unpunished, such as the aforementioned person.

Mr. Sharples

As a citizen of Israel, Mr. Beigin would not need a United Kingdom visa. His admission would fall to be considered in accordance with the published immigration rules (Cmnd. 4296), and on present information I have no reason to suppose that refusal of leave to land would be justified.

Mr. Mayhew

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the facts of this extraordinary case are not disputed and that very strong and understandable feelings are held about it by the Arabs who have been the victims of this appalling massacre of Deir Yasin? Will the hon. Gentleman take into account those feelings in reaching his decision?

Mr. Sharples

I have seen the report by Mr. Louis Heren and the reply by Mr. Beigin in The Times of 14th April. It is relevant that Mr. Beigin is a member of the Legislature of a country with which the present Government, as did previous Governments, maintain friendly relations. This case has been carefully considered, and all the information that I have shows that there is no reason to withhold permission to land.

Mr. Hafer

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this episode took place in 1948, that it was condemned overwhelmingly by the majority of Israeli people, and that the Israelis have never been happy or satisfied with the episode? Is he further aware that, if we were to stop all people who at one time or another were responsible for atrocities, obviously we should bar about every leading politician in the world?

Mr. Sharples

Without agreeing with the hon. Gentleman, there are probably two sides to this matter.

Mr. Kaufman

While no one of decent sensibilities would have other than contempt and loathing for Mr. Beigin and his record, would not it be as well to allow him here so that he might learn a little democracy, just as members of the El Fatah terrorist organisation who are shortly to come here may also learn a little democracy in this country?

Mr. Sharples

As I said, we see no justification for refusing Mr. Beigin permission to land in this country.