HC Deb 13 July 2004 vol 423 cc1254-6
14. Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East) (Lab)

What assessment the Quartet has made of Israeli plans to withdraw from the Gaza strip. [183368]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell)

The Quartet principals met in New York on 4 May and issued a statement in which they welcomed and encouraged Prime Minister Sharon's withdrawal plan, saying that it should provide a rare moment of opportunity in the search for peace in the Middle East". They also set out how the international community should support the process, offer economic help to the Palestinian Authority, and provide input on security.

Dr. Iddon

Was not my hon. Friend at all concerned when Ariel Sharon unilaterally announced his Gaza withdrawal plan, apparently without consultation with the Quartet, or, more importantly, with the Palestinians? If and when the settlers are withdrawn, will he be pressing with the UK Government for the total withdrawal of the Israelis from Gaza, and especially of the Israeli defence force, which causes so much death and destruction there?

Mr. Rammell

I think the Quartet has made its position clear, and we support it. The Quartet welcomes the Israeli Cabinet approval of Prime Minister Sharon's plan, but sees it very much as a step along the path to implementation of the road map. Nothing in this process avoids the need for those road map commitments on both sides to be implemented, and the plan presented by the Israeli Government certainly does not avoid the need for final-status negotiations which, in particular, will include the issue of borders and refugees.

Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order, Points of order are always taken after statements.

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