HC Deb 29 November 1995 vol 267 cc1190-1
12. Mr. Carrington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made towards achieving peace in the middle east. [864]

Mr. Rifkind

Despite Yitzhak Rabin's tragic death, the peace process is continuing. Shimon Peres' commitment to peace is clear—Israeli troops were redeployed from Jenin on 13 November, six days early. We are also hopeful that there will be progress on the Syrian track.

Mr. Carrington

In the light of the tragic death of Prime Minister Rabin, will my right hon. and learned Friend impress on the Israeli Government that they need not give concessions to the hardliners in Israel? In particular, will he impress on the Israeli Government the urgent need to stop Jewish settlements being built in Arab Jerusalem?

Mr. Rifkind

I believe that the Israeli Government themselves are disinclined to make concessions of the kind to which my hon. Friend refers. The new Israeli Prime Minister has emphasised that the pursuit of peace is his single most important priority. He appears to have been developing a good relationship with the Arab Heads of Government around Israel, and he is also thinking positively about trying to get the Syrian-Israeli negotiations moving again.

Mrs. Jane Kennedy

How much of the international aid pledged to the Palestine National Authority has so far been released? Can the Secretary of State explain what effect the cut in the overseas aid budget that was announced yesterday will have on Britain's ability to keep her promises in that regard?

Mr. Rifkind

We have committed ourselves to about £83 million-worth of bilateral and multilateral aid to the Palestinians. A lot of that has already been provided. When I was in Gaza recently, I indicated an extra £3 million-worth of aid and do not anticipate any change in those proposals as a result of the announcement yesterday.

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