HC Deb 08 November 1999 vol 337 c409W
Mr. Sarwar

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in the Middle East peace process. [97580]

Mr. Hain

The Sharm el-Sheikh agreement has created a real prospect of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The parties are committed to making a determined effort to conclude a Framework Agreement on Permanent Status issues by February, and to reaching a Permanent Status Agreement by September. We are confident that the permanent status negotiations, which have been formally resumed, will deliver substantive results.

Implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh commitments is proceeding, albeit with some short delays. A southern safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank was opened during my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's recent visit.

We do not underestimate the difficulties faced by both sides. Real vision will be needed to deliver a peace settlement which offers lasting security for Israel, and a real prospect of hope and prosperity for Palestinians.

Peace between Israel, Syria and Lebanon is an essential component of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We remain hopeful of a resumption of negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks.

We stand ready to help in any way we can in the pursuit of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.

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