HC Deb 28 October 1992 vol 212 cc1006-7
12. Mr. Page

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to meet the Israeli Prime Minister to discuss the future of the occupied territories.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs hopes to meet the Israeli Prime Minister during the latter's visit to the United Kingdom at the beginning of December. I am sure that the future of the occupied territories will be one of the issues that we discuss.

Mr. Page

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply and I am delighted that the subject of the occupied territories is to be discussed. On my visits to the occupied territories and Israel I have seen a growing willingness on both sides to reach a settlement. The recent action of the new Israeli Government in restricting settlements has gone a long way to help. Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that there is a chance of reaching an agreement under the new Israeli Prime Minister whereas there was not a cat in hell's chance of doing so under the previous one?

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I certainly agree that there is a greatly improved chance of negotiating a settlement under Mr. Rabin's Government. I also believe that the changed policy on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is extremely welcome. I should like to see the Arabs reciprocate by removing the boycott regime.

Mr. Barnes

The occupation has been illegal since 1967. The settlements are illegal. Israel is in contravention of the Geneva convention and is failing to conform with United Nations resolutions 242 and 338. In those circumstances, what lessons are the Arabs likely to learn from contrasting present action with action taken by the United Nations and this nation in response to the illegal occupation of Kuwait by Iraq?

Mr. Hogg

If that is supposed to imply that we should use force against the Israelis, it is a very unattractive proposal.

Mr. David Atkinson

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that our interpretation of resolution 242 is that the occupied territories include all the land east of the green line? If so, should not the forthcoming elections for Palestinian self-government include the Palestinians living in east Jerusalem? Will my right hon. and learned Friend raise that subject with the Israeli Prime Minister?

Mr. Hogg

We all recognise that the solution of east Jerusalem—and Jerusalem generally—is probably the most vexing subject to be tackled in the negotiations. If it is to be successfully tackled, it should probably be left until last when all the other elements of the agreement have been put in place.

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