HC Deb 20 July 1983 vol 46 cc365-6
7. Mr. Neil Thorne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has had any discussions with a view to achieving early implementation of the Israel-Lebanon agreement; and, if so, what assurances he has received that Syrian forces and Palestine Liberation Organisation terrorist groups will withdraw from the Lebanon at the same time as Israeli forces.

15. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has had discussions with the Saudi Arabian authorities to ask them to use their influence with the Syrians to withdraw their troops from sovereign Lebanese territory.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The Israel-Lebanon agreement was a welcome step forward, and we are doing what we can in all our contacts to create the conditions in which it can be implemented. The Syrians and the PLO are well aware of our view that they should take this opportunity to withdraw their forces from Lebanon.

Mr. Thorne

As my right hon. and learned Friend rightly acknowledges the fact that responsibility for that sad state of affairs largely rests in the hands of the PLO and Syrian terrorists, will he use his endeavours to ensure that the United Nations Security Council introduces sanctions against Syria until such time as she makes it possible for the Israeli forces to withdraw?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

We certainly intend to make plain to the Syrian Government, as we have already done, that the best way to bring about the withdrawal of Israeli forces is for them to agree to withdraw their forces from Lebanon. I should like to think rather longer about my hon. Friend's first point.

Mr. Hoyle

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the only way to a free and independent Lebanon is the complete withdrawal of all foreign troops, and that the way to achieve that is surely to use all the means at our disposal where we have influence, particularly with the Saudi Arabians? Will he try to do that?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Certainly the way to the peaceful resolution of the problems in the Lebanon is the withdrawal of all forces from that country. It is right that we should use every means and influence at our disposal. That is what we are trying to do, but we should not overestimate our influence.

Mr. Walters

Bearing in mind the appalling massacres of Palestinians last year in Beirut, with Israeli connivance, will the Government, with our European allies, do everything in their power to ensure that the Palestinians in south Lebanon are given adequate protection in the next critical months?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I shall certainly bear in mind my hon. Friend's important point.

Mr. Mikardo

Does not the present civil war within the PLO make it impossible to draw that organisation into negotiations or even discussions about withdrawal, as we could not be sure that any member of the organisation to whom one talked was empowered to speak for the whole of the organisation?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

When dealing with any organisation it is important to have an understanding of the authority, or lack of authority, of all those who seek to speak for it. The key feature is that the Palestinian people must play a full part in the negotiations affecting their future.