HC Deb 02 November 1994 vol 248 cc1547-8
1. Mrs. Jane Kennedy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty recently signed in Washington.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hogg)

I attended the signing of the treaty which took place on the Israel-Jordan border. It was a very moving occasion. The treaty is important and courageous and the British Government applaud it.

Mrs. Kennedy

Although we all welcome the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, does the Minister share our sense of disappointment at Syria's recent failure to condemn terrorism and to enter into direct negotiations with Israel? What measures has the Minister taken to encourage Syria to cease its sponsorship of terrorism in that region and to enter into the talks?

Mr. Hogg

Three weeks ago I had the opportunity of talking to President Assad of Syria on the importance of a comprehensive peace treaty with Israel. I stressed that it is an opportunity not to be missed. I believe that Syria is intent on peace and that Israel is as well. The problem is which will be the first to start the process. It is the unwillingness of the Syrians to embark on bilateral talks that I find most troubling.

Mr. John Marshall

In view of the treaty between Israel and Jordan and as it is many years since there was a state visit to Jordan, does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that it is high time that there was an official state visit to Israel by Her Majesty the Queen?

Mr. Hogg

That sounds a splendid idea.

Mr. Janner

In recognising that peace throughout the middle east is important, did the Minister meet with Mr. Nashashibi, the Palestinian Finance Minister? If so, and even if not, will he consider how Britain can help the Palestinians to re-establish themselves and their administration, police and education, because without that the entire process may collapse?

Mr. Hogg

Indeed, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Nashashibi about three weeks ago when he called on me in London. We discussed what the Government could do to assist in the Gaza strip and in the territories. I said that we had already contributed or were intending to contribute £75 million over three years. I drew his attention in particular to the recent grant of £5 million, of which £3 million was for the Palestinian police force.