At the invitation of the Israel Foreign Minister I visited Israel on 21st and 22nd March. I was very sorry that I had to curtail my visit in order to attend to business in London. This was the first visit by a British Foreign Secretary to Israel as a guest of that Government and I was able to have useful discussion with Mr. Eban and the Israel Prime Minister. Details of these discussions are of course confidential, but we naturally talked about the Middle East dispute as well as matters of bilateral interest.
Is the Secretary of State aware of the hardening of Israeli opinion against withdrawal from conquered territories and consequently against the kind of peaceful settlement supported by himself and the United Nations? Will he therefore give the assurance to the House that while the Israeli leaders continue resisting British and United Nations peace policies he will not sell them offensive weapons?
The whole question of arms to the Middle East is another matter. I certainly have impressed upon the Israeli Government, and indeed upon the Egyptian Government as well, that I can see no prospect of a settlement of this dispute unless a dialogue takes place—a much quicker dialogue at much closer quarters than there has been until now. That I will try to promote.
Is the Secretary of State aware that when my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) talks about a hardening of opinion in Israel insisting that the occupied territories be retained, he is in fact referring only to extremists in Israel who represent the generality of political opinion in Israel as little as does my hon. Friend in this country?
It is not for me to enter into a dispute between the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East. Israel accepted Resolution 242 and is willing to operate within it.