British Ambassador (Tel Aviv)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1988.

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Photo of Mr William McKelvey Mr William McKelvey , Kilmarnock and Loudoun 12:00 am, 6th July 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if. in the light of the current state of United Kingdom-Israel relations, he will withdraw Her Majesty's ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultations; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr William McKelvey Mr William McKelvey , Kilmarnock and Loudoun

If the Government are not prepared to recall our ambassador, can the Minister outline to the House how he intends to focus the minds of the Israeli Government on the deteriorating conditions between us and them? Will he tell them in no uncertain manner that we will not permit their agents to spy, burgle and counterfeit their way around London? Furthermore, will he tell them that many of us are gravely concerned at the fact that they continue to gun down Palestinians on the West Bank and elsewhere?

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

It is not just the hon. Gentleman who is concerned about that. Most hon. Members are concerned. I certainly am and so are the Government. On the general conditions in the occupied territories, we continue to make clear in all the fora open to us our dissatisfaction at the fact that the Israeli Government are refusing to take any steps forward. The hon. Gentleman may recall that the final declaration at the Toronto summit reiterated the sentiment, which is now commonplace everywhere, except in certain sections of the Israeli Government, that the status quo is now unsustainable and must be changed. On the matter of present incidents involving the activities of unauthorised agents in this country, our dissatisfaction has been made clear at the highest level. As a result, one diplomat was told earlier that he would not be welcome back to the United Kingdom, and another one has been dispatched home. We hope that the message is clear.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

As a general rule, is it not the case that when there are difficulties with foreign states, or matters arising that occasion disapproval, it is most important to have the fullest diplomatic representation?

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West

Does the Minister agree that, despite differences of opinion between the two countries, relations between Britain and Israel remain good? Further, does he agree that that is right, bearing in mind that those countries in the middle east supported by some hon. Members—[interruption.]—are either feudal oligarchies, military dictatorships or fundamentalist lunacies?

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

The hon. and learned Gentleman is aware of the House's reaction to some of his comments. Therefore, further remarks from me are redundant. Relations between Britain and Israel are good, but could be a great deal better if some of the points that I mentioned earlier were dealt with properly.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that we must continue to foster good relations with Israel and that, in the interest of both countries, we must seek peace in all the troubled parts of the middle east? Does he agree that the British and Israeli Governments could probably take a joint initiative and ask the United States and Iran for access to the black boxes from the crashed airliner and the tapes, which must be in existence, of the exchanges that took place between the airliner and the warships?

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

As my hon. Friend knows, a full investigation is under way to find out how the tragic incident earlier this week took place. We must await the results of that.