Middle East

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:53 pm on 12th March 2002.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:53 pm, 12th March 2002

My Lords, while the curtailment of Saddam Hussein and any possible attack on Iraq is—as the Americans have made clear—some considerable time away and calmness and measured responses are needed on that front, I am sure that the Minister agrees, as we all do, that the hideous downward spiral of violence between Israel and Palestine is immediate and horrific, and that we must mobilise every effort to find a way forward. Does she agree that the Saudi Arabian plan seems to have a core of common sense to it? Is it supported by Her Majesty's Government? Does she agree that Ariel Sharon's concession that he will now no longer hold out for seven quiet days before he negotiates is worth building on? Finally, does she agree that in addition to anything that we may do through the European Union, we should use our own prestige, which is not inconsiderable, to build on the possible glimmer of hope that those two developments now provide?