HL Deb 17 February 1993 vol 542 cc1127-8

3.7 p.m.

Lord Mayhew asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many Palestinian children have been killed or injured since 1st December 1992 by Israeli soldiers and settlers using live ammunition; and what they are doing to secure the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions relating to Palestine.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)

My Lords, 17 children have been shot dead and over 300 injured, mostly by gunfire, since 1st December 1992. We are urging on all parties the importance of an early resumption of the peace talks aimed at finding a settlement on the basis of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. Should not the Government and the other Community governments be taking a firmer line with those breaches of the Geneva Convention? Can the Minister confirm that in recent years more than 1,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been either shot dead or beaten to death by Israeli soldiers and settlers who have no legal right even to be in the territories? Is it not time, therefore, that the European governments, whose protests are consistently ignored, began to think in terms of stopping Israel's trade privileges in the single market?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, we have indeed been discussing an EC démarche to the Israeli Government on the basis of those children who have been killed or injured. It will issue shortly. We have further made absolutely clear, as of 1st February this year, the Community's strong views about those matters. We have our differences with the Rabin Government on the occupied territories, particularly over human rights, but also over deportations. We leave them in no doubt about our views.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that it is a very sad thing that a people who have suffered so appallingly from authoritarian governments are now inclined to behave like one themselves? Does she not further agree that if the United Nations Security Council does not intervene to stop this terrible situation between Israel and its Palestinian inhabitants and does not do what it was created to do there will be no point in having either a United Nations or a Security Council?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I agree that these are appalling figures and that the whole situation needs to be rectified. It is for that reason that on 12th February the President of the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed to the Israeli permanent representative in New York the need for Security Council Resolution 799 to be implemented. He welcomed the Israeli decision to allow 101 deportees to return but he urged Israel to follow this through and allow the return of all deportees as soon as possible. He has also noted that all members of the Security Council are convinced of the necessity of the Middle East peace process and he has urged everyone concerned to redouble their efforts to reinvigorate the process. Alongside that we will do everything we can bilaterally and with our partners in the European Community.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, when the President of Israel visits Britain at the end of this month, will the Government be impressing upon him the fact that continuing repression in the occupied territories, including the use of live ammunition against children, threatens to derail the whole peace process?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, yes. I am sure that when President Herzog visits this country on a long-standing invitation it will be a first-class opportunity for the Prime Minister and my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary to range over all the many problems in the region. We have in the meantime taken every opportunity to raise individual problems as they have occurred with the Government of Israel.

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