Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 24th February 2005.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom regarding Shalom's announced plan to campaign for a national referendum on the proposed pull out of Israeli forces from the occupied territories; what assessment his Department has made of the impact of this plan on the (a) viability of the proposal and (b) perception such proposals foster of the Israeli Government among (i) Palestinian officials, (ii) the Palestinian public and (iii) the Israeli public; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary last discussed the disengagement plan with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom during his visit to Israel on 24 November 2004. The Government of Israel do not plan to hold a referendum on the disengagement plan. The debate on whether a referendum should be held is an internal Israeli political matter.

We welcome Prime Minister Sharon's plan to withdraw all settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. We would like to see any withdrawal take place as soon as possible and be as complete as possible. We see the withdrawal of Israeli troops and dismantling of settlements as a step towards implementing the Roadmap.

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