Middle East

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th November 1975.

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Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

On my recent visits to Amman and Damascus I found a general wish to explore further the possibilities of achieving a negotiated settlement. The situation in the area is likely to remain uneasy until progress is made on the Golan front. As my right hon. Friend said on 10th November, the representation of the Palestinian people at a peace conference is another issue that has to be resolved.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

Although welcoming the recent visit of President Sadat to this country, may I ask the Minister to say whether he thinks that the sale of 200 Jaguar strike aircraft to Egypt would help the cause of peace in the Middle East?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has welcomed what was an extremely successful visit of President Sadat, but I have to tell him that some of the stories that appeared in the Press on the subject of arms supplies were in-accurate and speculative. Certainly the Government's policy in relation to arms supplies in the Middle East, which I have spelt out on many occasions, including the Foreign Affairs debate, has in no way changed.

Photo of Mr Eric Moonman Mr Eric Moonman , Basildon

In congratulating my right hon. Friend and, indeed, the Government, on attempting to defeat the resolution of the United Nations of 10th November, may I ask him to make some comment on the fact that such resolutions can only exacerbate the extraordinary tensions in the Middle East, a point made by the United Kingdom Ambassador to the United Nations?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

As my hon. Friend knows, the United Kingdom voted against the resolution. We strongly condemned the fact that it was introduced and condemned it as a resolution. We thought that it was negative and divisive. In our view it represented an attempt not so much to combat racialism as to attack Israel. It will make more difficult the achievement of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. We deeply deplored that this divisive resolution was introduced in the Assembly.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Will my right hon. Friend impress upon his right hon. Friend, to whom he is a little closer than I am, that, unless there is a recognition by Israel of the PLO, there will be no progress to a final peace settlement in the Middle East? As this is such a categoric and simple matter, will he not get this home to his right hon. Friend?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

I do not think that it is a simple matter at all. On the one hand, Israel does not recognise the PLO. On the other hand, the PLO does not accept Resolutions 242 or 338. So far it has in no way adopted a negotiating position. Nor has it rejected violence and terrorism as means of achieving its objectives. I think it is true, therefore, that each side has to reassess its position, and recognise that neither can talk to the other unless there is some common ground. They ought both to be searching for common ground.