§ 11.9 a.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
[The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take the initiative in proposing to the Security Council that a Middle East Conference should be held under United Nations auspices with a view to reaching a settlement of the Israeli-Egyptian conflict.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN)
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government 577 remain seriously concerned about the situation in the Middle East, and we shall bear this and any other suggestions in mind. But we have to take account of the attitude of the parties to the dispute. If at any time we thought that such a conference would forward matters we would be very ready to propose it. That is not our view in present circumstances.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, while thanking the Minister and appreciating his Answer, may I ask whether, in view of the virtual breakdown of the Jarring talks and of the Rogers' plan, there is not now a very dangerous vacuum in the Middle East which requires some new initiative? In the first instance, would not a conference on the Rhodes model, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Hambro of Norway, the Chairman of the General Assembly, followed, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, by a wider conference on the basis of the Geneva Conference, to which all Arab countries could be invited, be some way to break through the present terribly dangerous situation?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
I agree, my Lords, that there is a danger of a serious situation, and the situation is serious enough as it is. I think we must still hope that progress might be made towards the interim agreement, which has been helped forward by Secretary of State Rogers. I have read the article by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, with great interest and, as I said in my original Answer, of course it is something which Her Majesty's Government will bear in mind. But at the moment there seems to be very little prospect or hope that the participants in this dispute wish to come to the conference table.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, can the noble Marquess say whether, in his opinion, very much is likely to be gained by treating the Israeli-Egyptian conflict in isolation from the wider considerations of peace in the Middle East?
§ TIIE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, obviously the conflict between Israel and its neighbours is of the most serious potential nature, and is bound up in general with the peace of the Middle East. I was merely answering the noble Lord's question as to whether 578 a conference at this time would be a suitable way to solve it.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, does the Minister recollect that I did not suggest this isolation, and that all I proposed was, in the first instance, talks between Egypt and Israel, who are primarily involved, to be followed by a wider conference to which all Arab countries and other Powers concerned would be invited?