I attended the signing of the treaty which took place on the Israel-Jordan border. It was a very moving occasion. The treaty is important and courageous and the British Government applaud it.
Although we all welcome the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, does the Minister share our sense of disappointment at Syria's recent failure to condemn terrorism and to enter into direct negotiations with Israel? What measures has the Minister taken to encourage Syria to cease its sponsorship of terrorism in that region and to enter into the talks?
Three weeks ago I had the opportunity of talking to President Assad of Syria on the importance of a comprehensive peace treaty with Israel. I stressed that it is an opportunity not to be missed. I believe that Syria is intent on peace and that Israel is as well. The problem is which will be the first to start the process. It is the unwillingness of the Syrians to embark on bilateral talks that I find most troubling.
In recognising that peace throughout the middle east is important, did the Minister meet with Mr. Nashashibi, the Palestinian Finance Minister? If so, and even if not, will he consider how Britain can help the Palestinians to re-establish themselves and their administration, police and education, because without that the entire process may collapse?
Indeed, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Nashashibi about three weeks ago when he called on me in London. We discussed what the Government could do to assist in the Gaza strip and in the territories. I said that we had already contributed or were intending to contribute £75 million over three years. I drew his attention in particular to the recent grant of £5 million, of which £3 million was for the Palestinian police force.