HC Deb 11 April 1973 vol 854 cc1307-10
13. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he plans to seek to make an official visit to Cairo.

Lord Balniel

My right hon. Friend has no present plans to visit the Middle East.

Mr. Davis

Having regard to recent events, would it not be advantageous for the Foreign Secretary to indicate to President Sadat that it would be infinitely more desirable for him to stop making warlike noises and to stop giving aid and comfort to terrorists and, instead, to agree to get round a table to talk peace with the Israelis?

Lord Balniel

We believe that a just and lasting peace is very desirable in the area. The basis on which it is most likely to be achieved is that of Security Council Resolution No. 242, which the Government sponsored.

Mr. Walters

Will my right hon. Friend, when he has the opportunity, express to President Sadat our appreciation of the fact that there was a positive res- ponse by his Government to Ambassador Jarring's questionnaire at a time when there was a completely negative response by Israel? Will he also continue to put as much pressure as possible on the United States? Surely the way to get peace is not to supply a great number of Phantoms to Israel and thus perpetuate the great imbalance of power that already exists in the Middle East?

Lord Balniel

All those considerations will no doubt be borne in mind. The important thing is that the countries which are involved in the dispute should find a way of resolving it. The best way in which they can do that is by Resolution No. 242.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

When the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with Middle East matters, will he convey to the Israeli Government, with which many of us have had the most friendly relations in the past, that their international standing has depreciated as a result of the savagery recently carried out in the Lebanon?

Lord Balniel

The incidents which have taken place underline the importance of reaching a solution. This House has repeatedly deplored acts of violence, from whatever quarter they come. Such acts merely postpone the possibility of reaching a peaceful solution.

Mr. Dykes

Will my right hon. Friend convey to the Egyptian Government by one means or another the fact that the United Nations has not proved to be a very effective forum for a coming together of Egypt and Israel in terms of real negotiations? Will he point out that there would be no loss of face or prestige for the UAR or for the Arab Federation if direct talks were to take place eventually between the two countries?

Lord Balniel

Ultimately, direct negotiations will have to take place between the parties. We are in favour of such negotiations. However, if they are to be successful there must be a negotiating procedure which has the agreement of both sides. At present direct negotiations do not have that support.

18. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will pay an official visit to Israel.

Lord Balniel

I have nothing to add to my answer to the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davies) earlier today.

Mr. Hughes

If the right hon. Gentleman were to undertake such a visit, would it not give him the opportunity to urge the need for a full, independent and international inquiry into the shooting down of a Libyan civilian airliner over the Sinai desert on 21st February, with the loss of 106 lives? Would it not also give him the opportunity to point out that the events of the last few days are no answer to the problems of the area and can only further increase bitterness and resentment? Does not he agree that the root of the problem will remain that of the annexation and colonialisation by Israel of territory which did not belong to it?

Lord Balniel

That is a hypothetical question. I hope that I shall be able to visit Israel at a suitable time. We supported the resolution calling for an inquiry into the shooting down of the Libyan airliner and we are glad that it is now under way.

Mr. Fidler

Has my right hon. Friend noticed that what was said by the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) contained no condemnation of the terrorist outrages in Cyprus a few days ago? Would he not welcome condemnation of that kind of terrorism as well? Will he also bear in mind that the best way to make sure that no further incursions into the Lebanon take place is to remove the facilities made available there for the training of terrorists, just as King Hussein has removed such facilities from Jordan? In relation to the Libyan air disaster, is my right hon. Friend aware that the International Civil Aviation Organisation now has a team visiting the Middle East, including Israel, which is being given every possible facility for its inquiry?

Lord Balniel

The shooting down of the airliner, the massacre in Khartoum, the terrorist activities in Nicosia and the act of violence in Beirut are all acts of violence which we deplore and which most certainly do not contribute to a peaceful solution in the area.

Mr. Mayhew

I entirely agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but is he aware that those who have been assassinated by the Israelis have included some terrorists and some political organisers and propagandists but have mostly been civilians who were not even politically active? Is he further aware that since the assassinations of terrorists and political organisers in Frankfurt, Beirut and Rome there is a widespread feeling that Israeli authorities are about to turn their attention to London? Will he, therefore, make representations to the Israeli Government that, whatever the provocation, we shall regard as an outrage the same kind of tactics in London as we have seen in other parts of the world?

Lord Balniel

If the hon. Gentleman has any reason to believe that the Israeli Government are going to act in the way he has described in London, I hope that he will provide the information to Her Majesty's Government. We shall then take steps to ensure that it does not take place.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

Bearing in mind that the dangers of the situation are probably going to escalate in future, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) has indicated, will the right hon. Gentleman consider proposing that Dr. Jarring should make a fresh visit to the area, visiting not only Cairo but Tel Aviv?

Lord Balniel

We will bear, and have borne, that suggestion in mind. But, as I have said, we believe that the basis on which the countries concerned should continue to work is that which has been provided by Security Council Resolution No. 242.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will Her Majesty's Government make it clear to the Israeli Government that uncommitted nations in the free world do not welcome policies of massive reprisal or overkill, but look to Israel to remove the source of those grievances which lie at the root of the terrorism?

Lord Balniel

I am sure that the Israeli Government will take note of the views which have been expressed both in the news media and in the House.

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