Occupied Palestinian Territories

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:43 pm on 29th April 2004.

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Photo of Quentin Davies Quentin Davies Conservative, Grantham and Stamford 3:43 pm, 29th April 2004

The answer to that is yes. [Interruption.] I did say yes; there seemed to be a reaction to my use of that monosyllabic word. The hon. Lady asked a question and I said yes. If people came to Lincolnshire and started killing my constituents with suicide bombs, I would be the first to say that we should build a barrier between Lincolnshire and wherever the problem was coming from. That should be the inevitable response of any Government, because their first responsibility is to defend the lives of their citizens. The tragedy is that the second intifada was ever launched. That was a fundamental and despicable mistake, involving the deliberate shedding of innocent civilian blood for no coherent political purpose. Pragmatically, it was counter-productive; I condemn it morally above all, but also pragmatically.

There was a second element to the hon. Lady's question, which I am not running away from either: if a barrier is put up, should it be only in Israeli territory or beyond the 1967 international frontier? Again, I have sympathy with what the Israelis have done. There must be negotiation about which, if any, settlements remain in the occupied territories as part of a long-term settlement. However, the Israeli Government cannot possibly allow their citizens living in those settlements to be massacred in cold blood—of course they must be defended. It was necessary to respond in that way to defend those settlements because of the second intifada, because of Arafat's refusal to negotiate and because there was no prospect for continuing with a land-for-peace strategy as a result of the reckless and irresponsible decisions of Mr. Arafat.

I have answered the hon. Lady's question, possibly not as she wanted or expected, but coherently with the argument that I have been advancing.