Egyptian and Israeli military representatives have agreed on the implementation of much of the agreement of 11th November and are now discussing the disengagement of the armies. We hope that a conference to negotiate a permanent settlement will open soon. I am in close touch with the other Governments concerned about the preparations for this conference.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the basis for a real peace settlement in the Middle East, in the interests of Britain, Israel, and the Palestinian Arabs, is still the implementation of Resolution 242, which must be infinitely preferred to killing and bloodshed? Will he do all within his power to see that there is now some practical implementation of the proposals of that resolution?
Yes, Sir. Within the framework of Resolution 242 it ought to be possible to work out a settlement which combines the two essential things—withdrawal, and Israeli security.
Has my right hon. Friend received any assurance that the peace conference to resolve all the issues will take place within a measurable time? Has he put forward any clearer views on behalf of Her Majesty's Government as to the shape of the final settlement?
One does not want to lay down what I could call a blueprint for a settlement, because clearly a final settlement must be agreed, essentially, between the Israelis and their Arab neighbours. But we have expressed opinions as to the kind of settlement which we think should be possible. I hope that the conference will take place quite soon.
I do not need to spell out the differences between our point of view and that of any other Government. These are matters for reconciliation at a peace conference. No one would like to lay down the law now.
Part of a final settlement must be an agreement as to how arms should be supplied in the area, and in what quantities ; in other words, a rationing system. It is too early, therefore, to say whether we can resume the supply of arms to either side.
Is it the case that the peace conference is due to start on 18th December? Will the Foreign Secretary be there? If not, how will he represent United Kingdom interests and policies?
As I have said to the House previously, the essential thing is to get the conference started. It must start with the combatants—Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Israel. After the Moscow agreement, the Americans and the Soviet Union will, I have no doubt, be in close attendance.
No, not at the start. But the House can fairly assume that there will be many difficulties. It is a long road. It is then that the permanent members of the Security Council will be able to help, because the whole thing must be under the umbrella of the Security Council.
Will my right hon. Friend seek to ensure that the Security Council extends the mandate for the peace-keeping force for longer than six months, because the period of six months greatly reduces the effectiveness of that force and gives the indication that it may be withdrawn at too early a date?
I should have thought that if it was to give confidence to anyone, the force would have to be there for many years, in order that confidence may grow. I should have thought that another condition must be that it should not be withdrawn at the request of any one of the combatants.
Will not my right hon. Friend say a little more in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison)? Is it not alarming that the resupply of weapons to the Arabs is now such that they are in the position in which they were before the recent outbreak of hostilities? Does this not make the achievement of a real peace conference that much more difficult?