My Lords, I can come back to the noble Lord in more detail, but our point remains that the only way in which there can be a referral to the ICC for a non-signatory state is through the Security Council; that is the gate through which this has to go. I can envisage the Security Council acting only if we have reached a point where there seems to be well established evidence that confirms that there is a need to proceed. However, I will return to the noble Lord on this subsequently, if I may.
Let me say a word about the economic recovery. One light moment in an otherwise grim debate was when we heard from the world's greatest retailer that Israeli-Egyptian co-operation in the past has made for the word's best knickers. We can hope that that M&S spirit can continue as work is done on economic recovery. We very much support these efforts to get such combined economic programmes moving forward. We think that that is very interesting and a great idea, but I share the doubts that there is an economic solution alone to this conflict—we have tried that before. Reconstruction and private sector co-operation across national borders in the Middle East are important but they are not enough to solve the problem if we cannot move on the politics.
I was asked how we are doing with President Abbas. He is in the UK today, as he was yesterday. He has met the Prime Minister and a number of my senior colleagues, and we have again expressed our support for him in the difficult role that he has to play. He has called for $600 million of additional humanitarian assistance for the reconstruction and has pledged $50 million from the Palestinian Authority itself. The Egyptians have promised a reconstruction conference on
On the political side, the Egyptians have emerged as key at this stage, both in trying to facilitate an improvement in the relationship between the two Palestinian political sides and in trying to find a solution to the immediate issue of the ceasefire, as well as an end to the smuggling and the opening of the border crossings. We are extremely clear that, if we can secure a stronger ceasefire, beyond that must lie a renewed political initiative.
Here, I join everyone who has applauded the appointment of Senator Mitchell, whom I knew at the American end when he came back from his sessions in Northern Ireland. He said that the most difficult thing at the beginning, when people referred very passionately to events as the reason for not making peace, was to know whether they were events that had occurred the previous week or 400 years ago. That skill of learning his history quickly will be just as important in the new task that he has taken on. We will obviously support him in every way.
I close by picking up the reference to an evidently very eloquent speech by President Peres of Israel. He said that 50 years ago we realised that the Cold War would end, the Berlin Wall would fall, apartheid would be swept aside, Mandela would be installed and, lastly, that a black man would be President of the United States. Given the debate today, we might add to that that together we would have resolved the conflict in Northern Ireland. Looking ahead, it would seem reasonable also to say that we might find a solution to the problem in the Middle East.
Speaking as someone who has watched that conflict from the outside over many years and who has been involved as a UN official, I think that one could go beyond that and express a certain impatience. Why, when these other extraordinarily difficult conflicts have been resolved, does this one endure? After so much effort by the international community and the leaders of these different countries, and after so much sacrifice by those who have given their lives and borne the costs of the violence and deprivation in the region, why can we still not only get beyond pointing fingers but not even get beyond not pointing rockets? Why is it that every round of the conflict seems to leave the communities even more deeply polarised and divided? How can we now take hold of this opportunity and energy and, for once, channel it, adding this conflict to the list of the others that have been mentioned and say, as has happened, we hope, with the Cold War and other situations, never again.