HC Deb 24 June 1981 vol 7 c232
2. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made in discussions as a result of the European initiative which may help resolve the current situation in the Lebanon.

Mr. Hurd

The European Community's efforts to help find a basis for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute continue. Any such settlement, or significant progress towards it, would make it easier to find an answer to Lebanon's problems, but the differences within Lebanon can be settled only by agreement among the parties in that country.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my hon. Friend accept the real possibility of an early Israeli attack on Syrian forces in the Bekaa valley and an attempt by Christian Phalangist forces to eliminate the PLO in southern Lebanon? If so, will he consider initiating a Community fact-finding mission to find out what public opinion is in the Lebanon, with the aim of finding a peaceful solution to the problem and eliminating foreign occupation?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is right about the dangers, and makes an interesting suggestion. However, much is going on already. Mr. Habib is active in tackling the problem between Israel and Syria, the Arab follow-up committee is active in seeking reconciliation generally in the Lebanon and the United Nations is active, with our support, in tackling the problem in the south.

Mr. Mikardo

Does the Minister share President Sadat's recently expressed view that, although many factors have contributed to the awful situation in the Lebanon, the Syrians bear the major responsibility?

Mr. Hurd

That is not a fruitful line of approach. The key to the problem is to strengthen the authority of the central Lebanese Government. If we can find ways in which we can help do that, we shall take them.

Mr. Adley

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, to his knowledge, the Lebanese Government invited the Syrians into their country but did not invite the Israelis?

Mr. Hurd

That is so.

Mr. Faulds

Will the right hon. Gentleman convey to his European colleagues how offensive the Christian Lebanese find the Israeli pretence to be acting in their defence, both because only a minority of the Christians in Lebanon are supporters of the Fascist Gemayelist policies and because in Israel itself Christian proselytisers are persecuted?

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Gentleman will not draw me into commenting on the internal politics of Lebanon. The answer lies with the Lebanese, in strengthening the authority of the central Government.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. This question comes up several times again.

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