HC Deb 16 April 2002 vol 383 cc828-9W
23. Sir Sydney Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will report progress on peace initiatives in the middle east. [45539]

28. Mr. Jim Murphy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to promote a peaceful settlement. [45543]

32. Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United States Administration about influencing the progress towards peace in the middle east. [45547]

34. Mr. Betts

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. [45549]

35. Dr. Iddon

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the middle east peace process. [45550]

Mr. Bradshaw

We are gravely concerned by the consequences of the escalation in the middle east in recent weeks. The situation could get even worse unless both sides step back, and start talking. This requires real engagement and intervention by the international community.

The priority is implementation of UNSCRs 1402 and 1403, a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities and full co-operation by the parties with General Zinni to implement the Tenet security work-plan and the Mitchell Committee recommendations with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement. US Secretary of State Powell is in the region now on a mission to achieve this. It is crucial that both sides work constructively with Colin Powell. As the Prime Minister said in his statement to the House on 10 April, "Both sides must realise that violence is not, and never will be the answer. The solution to this crisis will never be reached if it is seen purely as a security or military question. There must be a political process."

The UK has played a full part in international efforts to bring the violence to an end and resume negotiations. The Prime Minister discussed the situation in the middle east with President Bush in Crawford, Texas. He has also had talks with European Heads of Government and President Mubarak. The Foreign Secretary has been in constant contact with his European counterparts and the US Secretary of State. He also spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Peres on 11 April. Despite the difficulties we have also maintained close contact with the Palestinian Authority primarily through our Consulate-General in Jerusalem. I spoke to the Palestinian Minister for International Planning and Co-operation, Nabil Sha'ath, on 3 April.

We shall be seeking a UN Security Council Resolution, based on Crown Prince Abdullah's plan, to promote a political process, following US Secretary of State Powell's visit to the region. We stand ready to help with monitoring, of a cease-fire and confidence building measures.

We have grave concerns about the denial of medical and humanitarian assistance to those in need in the Occupied Territories and about the lack of food, electricity and water. I raised our concerns with the Israeli ambassador on 4 April. We have also been disturbed by the reports of the deaths of innocents in the Jenin refugee camp and the conduct of the IDF. The Foreign Secretary raised these issues with the Israeli Foreign Minister on 11 April. We have urged the Government of Israel to ensure respect for international law by its armed forces and investigate thoroughly all allegations of IDF misconduct.

The Government will continue to do all it can to help the parties end the violence and resume talks based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and the principle of land for peace. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will only come through a political process which delivers security for Israel within recognised borders, brings an end to occupation, and allows the emergence of a secure and viable, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state committed to co-existence with Israel, and recognised and respected by Israel.

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