HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 c146
10. Mr. Stephen Day (Cheadle)

If he will make a statement on the United Kingdom's relations with the Government of Israel. [40500]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Derek Fatchett)

We enjoy excellent relations with Israel.

Mr. Day

Can the Minister assure the House that the traditionally excellent relationship between the United Kingdom and the state of Israel has been repaired following the disastrous consequences of the Foreign Secretary's visit to Israel recently?

Mr. Fatchett

During the lifetime of the Government, we have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the state of Israel and we shall continue to do so.

Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

I regret to admonish my hon. Friend, but I hope that he will reconsider his remarks to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), who asked about settlements and the Israeli Government's position. The hon. Gentleman represented the view of the House of Commons. Will my hon. Friend reconsider his words about intransigence? Most hon. Members believe as the hon. Gentleman believes.

Mr. Fatchett

There is no difference between my position, that of my hon. Friend and, indeed, that of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton). There is no question about the Government's policy: we have said constantly that we oppose the building of settlements and that we will take no steps that would pre-empt the final status negotiations. I said to the hon. Gentleman that we do not have the right to choose the parties with whom we negotiate. We have to negotiate with them, whatever we may think of them in personal terms. We have to make the best of the process and of the negotiations, because, as my hon. Friend knows, the only way in which to make progress is through a satisfactory solution. That will come through negotiation and diplomatic activity.