HC Deb 11 December 1972 vol 848 cc14-5
12. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what new initiatives he proposes to take in connection with the situation in the Middle East.

Lord Balniel

Her Majesty's Government have not proposed any new initiatives in connection with the Middle East. Their policy remains to do all they can to help bring about a settlement on the basis of Security Council resolution 242.

Mr. Davis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the recent Anglo-French performances at the United Nations hardly help in that direction? Does he not recognise that what has happened at the United Nations has brought a great deal of rejoicing in Arab capitals because of the partiality of Her Majesty's Government in this respect? Why are the Government so selective in their criticisms? Why have they not at the United Nations criticised the Libyan Government for harbouring terrorists? Why have—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is three questions.

Lord Balniel

I do not understand what the hon. Gentleman is referring to when he speaks of the "Anglo-French performances". We and our European partners voted in favour of the General Assembly resolution because, in our view, it did not alter or distort Security Council resolution No. 242, which remains the only generally accepted basis for a settlement.

Mr. Luce

Do the British Government support the American proposals for an interim settlement which would involve the withdrawal of troops along the Suez Canal?

Lord Balniel

We should welcome a resumption of efforts to bring about a resumption of talks based upon an interim arrangement so long as it was clearly linked to a final settlement.

Mr. Faulds

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that, when my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) uses the term "partiality", what he really means is that the Government at last, following the unhappy precedent of the previous Government, have returned to a greater degree of impartiality in these matters?

Lord Balniel

I think that hon. Members opposite had better settle that matter between themselves, without my intervention.

Mr. Goodhart

Will my right hon. Friend recognise that some people are concerned that the apparent swing in Foreign Office policy to a more anti-Israel stance should coincide with an attempt to co-ordinate our policy in the Middle East with that of the French Government?

Lord Balniel

I assure my hon. Friend that there is no swing, apparent or otherwise, to an anti-Israeli stance. In fact, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are to meet Mr. Eban this afternoon. We shall be discussing these matters.