HC Deb 27 March 1974 vol 871 cc433-5
7. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to pay an official visit to the Middle East.

9. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to pay an official visit to Jerusalem.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Ennals)

My right hon. Friend visited both Egypt and Israel shortly before the election was announced. He has no plans to visit the Middle East at present.

Mr. Hamilton

Will the Minister give an assurance that he will pursue an even-handed policy in this extremely sensitive area, and try at the earliest opportunity to bring together the oil-importing and oil-exporting countries, with particular regard to the problems of the Third World and the underdeveloped countries generally?

Mr. Ennals

To take the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question first, the answer is "Yes, indeed." That matter is being discussed at the Washington conference at present and will certainly be taken up at the special session of the United Nations Assembly in two weeks' time.

As regards the first part of the supplementary question, we are anxious to do everything that we can to assist Dr. Kissinger in his delicate negotiations—so far with considerable success, but there are difficulties ahead.

Mr. McCrindle

When the Foreign Secretary next visits Jerusalem, will he try to improve still further Anglo-Israeli relations, which reached a very low point last October? Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, rather than achieve that improvement by resuming arms sales, he might do worse than consider the possibility of improved economic and trade relations, particularly with regard to citrus products?

Mr. Ennals

My right hon. Friend is concerned with the whole question of trade relations with Israel and, of course, with the other Middle East countries, but he will bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman said.

Mr. Sandelson

Has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity of considering the views expressed in the foreign affairs debate last Tuesday by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), some of which caused offence to certain people? Will he now comment on what my hon. Friend said? I told my hon. Friend the Member for Heeley that I would raise this question.

Mr. Ennals

Yes, Sir. At the time of my hon. Friend's statement I was asked whether I would comment on his remarks, and I replied that I preferred to see HANSARD before doing so. I have looked carefully at my hon. Friend's remarks, and I must say that Her Majesty's Government would in no way wish to be associated with the language used by him about Israel, or with his comparison between the situation there and that in South Africa. I am sure that it is neither right nor helpful to use such language.

Mr. Fidler

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his response to my intervention last week. However, I wonder whether he has seen two reports in The Times today. One indicates that the British Government have supported the European Declaration on the Middle East, made on 6th November. I hope that that is not so.

Far worse, is there any truth in the other report, that the British Government have approved the appointment of General Shazly as the next Egyptian ambassador to the Court of St. James? Bearing in mind General Shazly's background of about 10 years ago, when he was closely associated with Fascist organisations in this country which were endeavouring to raise a large sum of money from him in order to engage in anti-Semitic activities here, such an appointment is unacceptable and an offence not only to the Jewish community but to all freedom lovers in this country.

Mr. Ennals

Let me deal first with the 6th November declaration. It was a restatement of the principles contained in the United Nations resolution. Her Majesty's Government accept the wording of that resolution which, in our view, in no way changes the position adopted by the Labour Party both in opposition and now in government.

In answer to the second question, I confirm that agreement has been granted for General Shazly to become the ambassador. It is not right for me to discuss allegations about General Shazly which have appeared in the Press. He has been accepted as the ambassador of Egypt, with which it is our wish to have friendly relations.

Mr. Jackson

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is that Arab Jerusalem should remain an integral part of Jordan?

Mr. Ennals

I do not intend to be drawn into confirming statements of that nature. At a time when Dr. Kissinger is involved in very delicate negotiations, it is in no way helpful for Governments to line themselves up on one side or the other.

Mr. Walters

Do the Government intend to continue to encourage schemes for industrial co-operation and partnership in Egypt and other Arab countries which are of great long-term economic and political value to this country?

Mr. Ennals

Yes, Sir. In the article written by my right hon. Friend when he returned from his visit to both Israel and Egypt, he emphasised the value that we place on our economic relationship with those countries.