Middle East

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th March 1994.

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Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr 12:00 am, 30th March 1994

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to meet the Israeli Foreign Minister to discuss the middle east peace initiative.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

At the moment my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no such plans.

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister is about to lead an Israeli delegation to Oman—the first Israeli delegation to a Gulf state? Does he welcome this, as he welcomed in the past the talks that were initiated with the Israelis and the PLO? Will he urge the PLO to resume its place at the negotiating table?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My hon. Friend is right. The impending visit of Yossi Beilin to Oman is greatly to be welcomed. As to the second part of the question, the answer must be yes. Negotiations are taking place in Cairo at the moment and it is important that the Palestinians and the Israelis get into full negotiations as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree with me that the British Government should be putting pressure on the Israeli Government, first, to accept an international presence in the occupied territories to protect the Palestinians, and, after many years of not doing so, to implement international law in those territories, again to protect the Palestinians?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

That is an important point. The hon. Gentleman will bear in mind the fact that we were a co-sponsor of the resolution passed through the Security Council on 18 March, which contained a call for an international or foreign presence in the occupied territories. The British Government support that and would be anxious to participate in such a presence if the conditions were right.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

In any such meeting, will my right hon. and learned Friend stress the importance of taking into account the interests of the Lebanese people in the middle eastern settlement? They have rights as well, and the presence of large numbers of both Syrian and Israeli troops in their country makes their claim to independence rather hollow at present.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My hon. Friend will know that Security Council resolution 425 calls for the withdrawal of the state of Israel from southern Lebanon. We support that resolution and take every opportunity to make it plain to the Israeli Government that they need to comply with it as soon as possible.