HL Deb 12 March 1975 vol 358 cc283-6

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the continuing use of terrorism and in particular the terrorist actions in West Germany and by the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Tel Aviv, they will now speed up consultations with other civilised nations to deal with this situation.


My Lords, as I indicated in my reply to my noble friend on 27th January, there is already abundant contact on such matters at all levels with like-minded countries both internationally and bilaterally. Officials and professional advisers regularly discuss how lessons gained from the handling of terrorist incidents may improve the capacity to thwart future attacks, or at least to respond swiftly and effectively if they occur.


My Lords, while accepting and thanking my noble friend for the reply he has given, may I ask whether he is aware of the fact that urgent action is called for at the present time? Will he help by discouraging acts of appeasement, for example allowing Arafat— that murderer, indeed the chief of murderers—to appear at United Nations' conferences such as the conference which is being held on the law of the sea, of all subjects, one which is similar to the question of law in respect of piracy? Will he join with his friends, his civilised friends, to ensure that appeasing actions which are being taken at the present time, for example by France in advocating that the PLO should be admitted as an observer in the European Common Market, are stopped, and that appeasement of these assassins instead of being encouraged will be strongly opposed?


My Lords, I have noted what my noble friend has said. It is rather a compartmental question which includes a number of specific points. It is no part of our policy to appease terrorism from what-ever source it emanates. On the question of talking to certain organisations, it is a fact that a Euro-Arab dialogue is proposed at which the Arabs wish to see Palestinian representation. But we insist that such a dialogue shall not be political but entirely economic.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the hotel which was attacked by the PLO was the head-quarters of Irgun Zvei Leumi during the 1940s? Secondly, is the noble Lord also aware that if the Palestine problem is solved to the justice of the Palestinian people, these terrorist activities in Israel may then cease?


My Lords, it is, of course, part of our attitude that in the final settlement due regard will be paid to the legitimate political aspirations of the Palestinian community and of the refugees to which Resolution 242 makes reference.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that the kind of question which is being asked by the noble Lord opposite is encouraging these assassins to carry on with their activities? Does the noble Lord realise that, by asking that kind of question, and by people visiting Arafat and treating him in the manner in which normally reasonable people are treated instead of in the manner in which murderers should be treated, encouragement is being given to these murderers to continue their activities?


My Lords, every effort to secure a lasting and fair settlement in the Middle East must bear in mind all points of view, including those of my noble friend. I have no doubt that Dr. Kissinger, whose efforts we continue strongly to support, is well aware of all the considerations which both of my noble friends have advanced.


My Lords, if I may refer to the United Nations deliberations concerning the acceptability of admitting representatives of the PLO, is the noble Lord able to indicate to the House what course of action our representative has taken with regard to them?


My Lords, we are not in favour of non-Governmental organisations being admitted to sessions of the United Nations. However, we fall in with the decision of the United Nations, since that is the authority which decides which organisations shall be admitted to its sessions.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that we are unlikely to curb terrorism so long as we continue to associate with those who give these murderers aid and succour and who send them out to do these jobs? In these circumstances, surely it is quite disgraceful to continue to associate with Arafat and his friends.


My Lords, we are in general accord with what my noble friend has said. However, one needs to define what he means by "association". Does my noble friend mean that we should break off all relations with countries which, at one time or another, may be in the position which he has described?


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the whole country sympathises with the Government in trying to find a solution to this terrible problem? Is he able to give the House any indication of which nations are prepared to act in unison, with a view to deciding upon united action over this particularly difficult problem?


My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for indicating the role which this country can and should try to play. It is not our entire responsibility to find an instant solution to this baffling and very dangerous problem. As regards the countries which might usefully and acceptably take part in a final conference, we are in favour of the reconvening as soon as possible of the Geneva Conference, with agreement among the parties as to who should be present.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that those of us who served in Palestine in 1946 have our own opinions about who are the instigators of this series of murders which have been referred to ; namely, the Irgun Zvei Leumi and the Stern gang who have set the whole pattern of postwar terrorism.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)

My Lords, that is hardly a supplementary question which arises from the original Question. It is a question which we have had before, and I regret that we shall have it again. In those circumstances, may I suggest that we move to the next business.