HC Deb 24 June 1981 vol 7 cc233-4
5. Mr. Walters

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the situation in the Middle East.

Mr. Hurd

Recent events in the Middle East show clearly the urgent need for a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute. We and our partners in the Ten remain determined to contribute to such a settlement.

Mr. Walters

Bearing in mind the unanimous condemnation by the Security Council of the Israeli attack on Iraq and the continuing overwhelming military predominance of Israel in the area, will my hon. Friend do his best to persuade the United States Government to transform their temporary ban on the supply of F16s to Israel into a permanent ban?

Mr. Hurd

That is a matter for them, but it is satisfactory that the Security Council managed to reach a unanimous conclusion in the debate last week. I hope that that will have some effect on policies world-wide, including policies in Israel.

Mr. Healey

Does the Minister agree that the most important lesson of recent events in the Middle East is the immense danger to world peace in the rapid acceleration of the arms race, conventional as well as nuclear, in the area? Will he consult his colleagues in Europe and in the Atlantic Alliance to see whether some agreement can be reached on halting and reversing that arms race in discussions with the major arms suppliers and with the countries in the area?

Mr. Hurd

That is an ideal, but one which can be realised only with the co-operation of the Soviet Union—which, on past form, is most unlikely to be forthcoming. I draw a slightly different lesson from the events of last week, which is that on the whole it is a mistake for a country to take the law into its own hands in the belief that others will not follow.

Mr. Lawrence

Have the Iraqi Government explained to Her Majesty's Government why they needed weapon grade nuclear material, if it was not to produce nuclear weapons?

Mr. Hurd

That was gone into fairly thoroughly in the Security Council and I think that some of the allegations produced by the Israeli Government to justify their attack have been refuted on technical grounds.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Following the latest talks that Mr. van der Klaauw has had with the PLO representative, has he brought to the Council of Ministers any possibility of a modification in the PLO's line of rejecting even the existence of Israel?

Mr. Hurd

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the PLO has in the past accepted certain international statemenst which in turn accept the right of Israel to exist. I agree with him, however, that there is a long way to go before we can be satisfied. One of the purposes of the contacts that we occasionally have at official level with the PLO and our discussions with other Arab countries is to bring the PLO to say that if Israel accepted the right of the Palestinians to self-determination the PLO would accept the right of Israel to exist.

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