HC Deb 09 June 1982 vol 25 cc194-6
5. Mr. Sainsbury

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to meet representatives of the Jordanian Government to discuss further moves to bring about lasting peace in the Middle East.

Mr. Hurd

My right hon. Friend hopes to take up before long the outstanding invitation to visit Jordan. Meanwhile, we remain in close touch with the Jordanian Government about recent developments in the Middle East.

Mr. Sainsbury

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if we are to obtain a lasting peace in the Middle East, all the interested parties will need to enter into negotiations and be prepared to consider reasonable compromises? In this connection, is not the intransigence of the PLO, exemplified by its rejection not only of the Fahd plan but of the Venice proposals, a major obstacle to peace? Surely it is essential for Jordan to become involved. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that his right hon. Friend will do everything possible to bring about that involvement?

Mr. Hurd

Jordan certainly has or could have, an important role, but it is not, and does not regard itself as a substitute for the PLO or other representatives of the Palestinian people. Those who want to bring in Jordan need to take some account of Jordanian views, particularly their views on the West Bank and Jerusalem and the proliferation of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

Mr. David Steel

Valuable as a visit to Jordan would be, does the Minister agree that all Governments in the area will have to be involved in a lasting peace settlement, as the question asked, and that therefore the basic Community approach of the Venice declaration is correct? Will he accept from me, in view of the fact that last week I visited the Gulf States, that there is a growing recognition that the new Government in Egypt should be drawn back into this wider discussion process?

Mr. Hurd

I agree. The renewal of links between Egypt and the rest of the Arab world will probably take a little time. Our view on most of these matters is very close to that of the Government of President Mubarak, with whom we are in close touch.

Mr. Donald Stewart

Does the Minister agree that the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador was an appalling act which ought to be condemned? Does it not testify to the callous aggression of the Israelis against the Lebanon? Is he aware that a bad impression has been given by Israel through its disregard for civilian casualties and its claim for lebensraum? What assistance has been given to impress upon the American Government the necessity of seeing that there is some restriction on Israeli aggression?

Mr. Hurd

A few minutes ago my right hon. Friend told the House of his conversations with Mr. Haig yesterday. Certainly we are doing everything that we can with the Americans, our European partners, the United Nations, and directly to emphasise to the Israeli Government that the brutal assault on the Israeli ambassador could be no justification for what has happened since and that it must be right for Israel, in its own interests as well as in the interests of everyone else, to comply with the Security Council's resolutions on this subject.

Mr. Crouch

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while the first priority must be a ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Lebanon, we must seek to ensure that Lebanon and the Lebanese people are not destroyed as a result of the continuing disputes between the PLO and the Israelis?

Mr. Hurd

Yes, Sir. Lebanon has been the victim of forces which are quite outside its control. The suffering of innocent people has now reached intolerable proportions. We have told the Lebanese ambassador here that if there are specific humanitarian needs which the Lebanese Government can identify and with which they think that we could help, he should let us know. I agree with my hon. Friend's general point.

Mr. Greville Janner

Will the Government explain to the PLO, through whatever means they have, that if there is to be what everyone in the area wants—lasting peace—the PLO must recognise Israel's right to exist in security and renounce terrorism, whether it is in the Middle East or in the streets of London?

Mr. Hurd

We have used the opportunities available to us to explain to the PLO for many months now our view that what it calls the armed struggle is futile and that acts of terrorism diminish, not strengthen, its cause. The PLO is well aware of our view on that subject. It would be helpful in this respect if Israelis of all persuasions, and in particular the Israeli Government, were to show some recognition of the need for a counterpart to that—that Palestinians, too, have political rights.

Mr. Walters

In view of the gravity of the situation in the Middle East, will my right hon. Friend comment on the decision of the United States to veto the resolution calling for a ceasefire? Can the West really continue to stand idly by while the armed forces of Israel commit genocide in Lebanon?

Mr. Hurd

The United States supported the earlier Security Council resolution, which called for a ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal. There is no doubt from the remarks that the President of the United States made here yesterday that that remains his deeply held view and that his emissary, Mr. Habib, is in Israel to help to achieve that purpose.

Mr. Moyle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of a number of Israeli allegations that the Palestinians have been making incursions into Northern Israeli territory from Jordan? When his right hon. Friend meets the Jordanian representatives, will he seek assurances from the Jordanian Government that they are doing their utmost to control those incursions? Will he also seek assurances from the Israeli Government that those allegations are not a precursor to Israeli troop movements into Jordan, as has happened in Lebanon?

Mr. Hurd

Our information is that the Jordanian Government do their best in this direction, and I think that the Israelis understand that. In fact, there were no artillery or rocket attacks by the PLO across the Israel-Lebanon border between the implementation of the ceasefire in July 1981 and 9 May 1982, when the Palestinians responded to Israeli air attacks on their position in the Lebanon.