Oral Answers to Questions — Israel (Supply of Arms)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1970.

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Mr. Bob Brown:

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, in the light of the supply of Soviet arms to Egypt, Her Majesty's Government will now permit the sale of Chieftain tanks to Israel with a view to preserving the balance of power in the Middle East.

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I have nothing to add to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) on 6th July.—[Vol. 803, c. 1.]

Mr. Brown:

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the preservation of social democracy in the Middle East is extremely important, not least for the under-privileged in the Arab States, and does not he consider this a matter for urgent decision?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is a matter of the very greatest importance. We are trying to reduce tension in the area, and we will bear what he says in mind in relation to any applications for arms.

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Woolwich East

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, unfortunately, Israel's policies are almost as unpopular with the General Assembly and the Security Council as South Africa's and that, while she persists in them, selling arms to her will produce extremely difficult political, economic and moral problems for us?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I have heard similar arguments in regard to the Arab States. We have to look at both sides in this difficult matter, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would not wish me to comment.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that if no Chieftain tanks are sold by the British Government to Israel, then no British tanks will be sold to Libya?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I have already said that we do not give any indication with regard to individual arms sales. All these matters are kept in perspective, and it is certainly not our desire to give advantage to one side or the other.