HC Deb 20 March 1985 vol 75 cc855-6
5. Mr. Tom Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what responses have been monitored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from Palestinian spokesmen about clarification of their attitude on the Hussein initiative; and whether they accepted United Nations Security Council resolution 242, modified by 338, since the Prime Minister's statement of 26 February, Official Report, c. 173–74.

Mr. Luce

We have noted a number of statements by Palestinian spokesmen representing different shades of opinion. King Hussein's initiative does not refer explicitly to United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, but spokesmen have drawn attention to the fact that it is based on the principle of "Comprehensive peace as established in United Nations and Security Council resolutions".

Mr. Cox

Is the Minister aware that in February the central committee of the PLO completely rejected resolution 242 and that it is seeking to destroy the whole of the Hussein initiative? In the light of such action, how can the state of Israel believe statements about groups respecting its security and right to exist as a country? That is what this issue is about, and that is why there is such great concern in Israel about the kinds of statements that the PLO has been making.

Mr. Luce

I think that it would be to Israel's benefit, as Prime Minister Peres said in some of his comments, to take seriously what King Hussein and Mr. Arafat have said in their joint statement. As I have said in my main answer, the statement refers to United Nations Security Council resolutions. Those resolutions talk about the exchange of territory for peace. I believe that that could form a basis for discussion between the Arab world, the Palestinians and the Israelis. All that we can hope to do is to look for the constructive points that have been made, pick them out and try to help their development. It is for the parties involved to do this, but we must encourage those positive points.

Mr. Latham

Since King Hussein, President Mubarak and Prime Minister Peres have simultaneously during the past few weeks either lanuched initiatives or responded favourably to them and have made similar statements in Washington, is it not time that they all met to do something about those initiatives?

Mr. Luce

We very much hope that there will now be progress towards some agreement about the basis for discussion. We hope that there can be direct discussion between the Palestinians and King Hussein on the one hand and Israel on the other. We have noted that President Mubarak has some practical ideas in this direction.