HC Deb 12 April 1989 vol 150 cc892-3
4. Mr. Nellist

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the recent United States State Department report on human rights violations in the territories occupied by Israel; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave

The State Department's assessment is in line with our own.

Mr. Nellist

Does the Minister agree that the United States State Department report was devastating, showing that thousands of Palestinians had been detained without trial and thousands had been injured by the activities of the Israel Defence Force in the last 17 months of occupation, and that more than 400 had been killed in that period—including, when I was last there two weeks ago, a four-year-old girl? When will pressure be put on the Israeli Government to reduce the carnage?

Mr. Waldegrave

It is relatively unusual for the hon. Gentleman to endorse what is said by the United States State Department. It emphasises the fact that there is no doubt about the unacceptability of Israeli behaviour in the occupied territories. That is recognised by a wide spectrum of opinion—it would be hard to be find a wider spectrum. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the British Government and other Governments in the European Community have repeatedly made their views clear.

Mr. Adley

a few moments ago, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman), my hon. Friend the Minister said that relations between eastern European countries and the Community would depend on violations of human rights not taking place. In view of the obvious violation of human rights by Israel in the occupied territories, why the double standards?

Mr. Waldegrave

As my hon. Friend knows, the relationship between Israel and the European Community came into question over the access of goods to the Community from the occupied territories, particularly Gaza. Speeches in the European Parliament and elsewhere had a pronounced effect. In general, however, we believe —I believe that the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) is with us on this—that it is not sensible to try to change a country such as Israel by means of threats. Israel is a genuine democracy. We must engage her own public opinion, and persuade Israelis who want to make that change freely.

Mr. David Young

In his talks with Israel, has the Minister entered into any discussion about resolving the difficulties in the Lebanon, which seems to be a key issue in this worrying saga?

Mr. Waldegrave

It remains one of our principal quarrels with Israel that Israel still has troops in the Lebanon, and we refuse to sell weapons to Israel until she has accepted the relevant Security Council resolution and withdrawn her troops. That is one of the matters that come up regularly.

Mr. Rhodes James

Is my hon. Friend aware that Israel has many friends on both sides of the House, in this country as a whole and in the West, and it is those friends who are the most dismayed by the report and by developments in Israel? Will my hon. Friend convey that very strongly to the Israeli Government?

Mr. Waldegrave

One of the most impressive recent developments is that genuine friends of Israel on both sides of the House—indeed, all sections of opinion in this country and also in the United States—have begun to make it clear to the Israeli Government and people that they do not consider the policy on which Israel is engaged to be either right or sensible. My hon. Friend's own part in that is important.

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