Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
TUESDAY 19 DECEMBER 2000
HAIN, MP, MR
40. Before you reach an agreement each side
has got to say what it will do. The Palestinians are looking,
are they not, for a commitment that the settlements will go, Israel
is looking for a settlement where the settlements will be recognised
within secure boundaries, and the two have to come together?
(Mr Hain) They do and it is one of the many tragedies
of the last few months that both sides were very, very close to
an agreement on this matter and on Jerusalem and on refugees.
There were very deep issues involved but only a very narrow difference
between them. Sometimes when peace negotiations get to the point
when an agreement is about to be secured that is when it gets
most difficult, as we have seen elsewhere in the world, and certainly
appears to be the case here. I think this matter could have been
not resolved as much as satisfactorily agreed between both sides.
41. Are you talking about at Camp David?
(Mr Hain) Yes, Camp David and around that time. Camp
David was in its own sense a tragedy.
42. What is your reading of the failure of Camp
David? Why did it happen?
(Mr Hain) I do not think it was well-handled.
Sir David Madel
43. By whom?
(Mr Hain) I do not think it was well prepared for.
If you do not mind Chairman, I do not want to start casting blame
at any particular individuals or groups or countries because I
do not think that takes us very far, but anybody close to the
negotiations knew that both sides had been working out on maps
and with technical reports in the kind of detail with a lot of
consensus by that time and it was just tragic that the diplomatic
choreography of Camp David was unable to take it that step further.
44. On page 60 of the report a reference is
made to the Conflict Prevention Fund activity in the Middle East.
What is the Conflict Prevention Fund? You refer to what it has
done but what is it actually doing now?
(Mr Hain) I think I am right in saying that one of
the things it is doing now is helping fundalthough it may
be an alternative streamthe experts of a legal and technical
kind for the Palestinian negotiators because the two negotiating
teams have been very lop-sided. Obviously Israel has the whole
expert team of a state; the Palestinians are not a state. That
is one of the things we have been doing.
45. Is it possible that it would fund British
observers as to what is going on? Would that be its role?
(Mr Hain) Do you mean, Sir David, in the context of
the current discussions about international observers with the
United Nations and elsewhere?
(Mr Hain) I am not sure, but I do not think funding
for observers would be a problem; I think getting an agreement
on the basis upon which they could be deployed is the problem
with which we are grappling now.
47. There has been a lot of talk about increasing
tension. If we got observers there it would help to lower tension,
so are we pushing as a Government that observers should go there?
(Mr Hain) We have, with the French, been very active
in the Security Council seeking to get agreement on this. I think
inch by inch we are making some progress because it is our view
that, as distinct from a UN peace-keeping force to separate the
two parties, which I do not think is realistic or would go through
the United Nations Security Council even if it were realistic,
there is a strong argument, as the Foreign Secretary and Prime
Minister have made clear to Israel amongst others, for having
independent observers able to see what is going on and able to
act as a deterrent by virtue of their independent scrutiny on
the ground, and we are very much in favour of that.
48. Who is holding things up in the Security
(Mr Hain) There is a whole series of complexities
there which, if you will allow me, I am not going again to start,
in the middle of a very delicate diplomatic tangle, to suggest
who is holding it up or who is not, although everybody might take
a guess, but we are working as hard as we can to get a resolution
hopefully before Christmas, although whether that is achievable
or not, I do not know.
Sir John Stanley
49. Minister, on page 18 of your report you
draw attention, rightly in my view, to Iraq's so-called, and you
rightly put it in inverted commas, "prison-cleansing campaign"
and what you say about the mass slaughter that has been going
on in Iraqi prisons is well corroborated, I thought, by the piece
in The Observer on 3 December under the heading "Executioner
tells of mass slaughter in Saddam's jails" where it says:
"An ex-member of the security service in Baghdad has given
chilling details of how he helped slaughter countless prisoners."
That article in The Observer ends with this final paragraph:
"Foreign Office Minister, Peter Hain, said: `Nobody should
forget Saddam's evil bestiality. Those who want the United Nations
to abandon sanctions and walk away are inviting him to terrorise
Iraqi Kurds in the north, his neighbours and the region with horrendous
violence.'" Can we take it from that, Minister, that there
is absolutely no softening in the British Government's position
on sanctions as being applied to Iraq?
(Mr Hain) There is no change in our policy, which
was set out in Resolution 1284, which we more than anybody else
got agreed by the United Nation's Security Council which provides
for a suspension in sanctions in return for arms' inspectors going
in and identifying whether, as we suspect, there are still stockpiles
of chemical and biological capabilities and a latent nuclear capability
as well. We want to see sanctions suspended but there is no softening
of our position in the sense we have no alternative but to maintain
the current regime of sanctions given Saddam Hussein's unwillingness
to co-operate with the United Nations Security Council and international
50. Do you still feel confident that you will
be able maintain international support for the existing sanctions
policy, including within the EU where a number of EU Member States,
such as France conspicuously, appear to be almost ready to follow
a completely different policy?
(Mr Hain) No. I very much take the point that you
make. The problem has been, and this bedevils the situation, that
the critics of sanctions, first of all, do not have an alternative
policy. They are virtually advising Britain and the international
community to walk away from Iraq and leave Saddam Hussein to do
exactly the things I said in that quote, to attack his neighbours
and the Kurds, and to run riot in his own country and the region
again. The other thing that I think is deplorable about the levels
of criticism that have come from a number of countries, and also
individuals, is that effectively they are providing Saddam Hussein
with an excuse to just sit tight because he thinks he is winning
a propaganda battle and therefore they are colluding in the maintenance
of a situation to which they are opposed. What I believe they
should do is unite with us in seeking implementation of Resolution
1284 which could within 180 days get sanctions suspended in return
for the UN team going in. That is the position that the critics
and ourselves could unite around to take the whole situation forward,
and that is what I think they should be doing.
51. Do you anticipate that the incoming US administration
will continue the previous administration's firm adherence to
sanctions in relation to Iraq?
(Mr Hain) I think so although obviously, as our preliminary
discussions have confirmed, they will want to review the situation,
as any incoming administration does, to see how it can be improved
upon and to see how we can get the Resolution to a position of
being implemented, which is obviously the preferred policy. I
do not see any lightening, if that is the right term, or reduction
of resolve on the part of the administration of an incoming President
Bush from the present one, but time marches on and we all need
to review where we are going.
52. Minister, would the Government ever consider
inviting Saddam Hussein to Britain on a state visit?
(Mr Hain) No.
53. What about the leaders of the Burmese military
(Mr Hain) No.
54. What about the Pakistan military regime?
(Mr Hain) No.
55. President Mugabe?
(Mr Hain) I do not think that has been top of our
56. It is an interesting contrast, is it not,
because at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference last
year we moved to have Pakistan suspended from the Commonwealth
but we put President Mugabe on a high-level Commission to discuss
the future of the Commonwealth. Were those both ethical decisions?
(Mr Hain) First of all, President Mugabe is a senior
member of the Commonwealth Heads of Commonwealth Conference and
obviously Zimbabwe has a claim to such high level membership as
others do, and it is a matter for agreement in the Commonwealth.
Let me emphasise, in case my reply seemed at all flippant, we
do not have any plans to invite President Mugabe on a state visit.
We had President Chissano of Mozambique, a very respected African
leader and one of his neighbours, only last week. I think that
is the kind of African leader that we want to see received by
the Queen and Prime Minister.
57. The President of Pakistan is a senior Commonwealth
leader as well and I wonder if there is a slight distinction in
the ethics applied to left-wing human rights' offenders and right-wing
human rights' offenders. Here we have the Pakistan military regime
and Burma which we are very tough on, whereas regarding Castro
the Foreign Secretary suggested in a speech to your Party Conference
two years ago that the best way to deal with Cuba was to lift
economic sanctions, whilst a page later he said the best way to
deal with Burma was to impose economic sanctions. Is there a distinction?
(Mr Hain) Before I come to that very direct question,
which I will answer directly, the difference between General Musharraf
and President Mugabe is that President Mugabe is elected. You
and I might not like
58. He lost the election. He rigged it
(Mr Hain) No, he was elected democratically as the
President of Zimbabwe some years ago. He lost a referendum and
he only narrowly won, after a lot of violence and intimidation
of the opposition, a parliamentary election, but he is an elected
leader. The point we made about General Musharrafand it
applies to Burma as well of courseis that here is a military
junta overthrowing and nullifying a democratic process and I think
that puts people in a totally different position. We do not like
what President Mugabe is doing in Zimbabwe. I and the Foreign
Secretary have been more critical than anybody else internationally
of the destruction of the country and the devastation of the economy
that his policies are responsible for.
59. In this scale of human rights' offenders
from Saddam Hussein, as probably one of the worst, to President
Mugabe, who you seem prepared to tolerate
(Mr Hain) No, I do not accept that. I do not tolerate
President Mugabe. What do you mean "tolerate"? We have
been vociferous to the point where people have said maybe we were