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Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough): Will my right hon. Friend say something about the emergency aid that the Government can offer to help in the traumatic situation following the destruction of the refugee camp at Jenin and at other places?
Mr. Straw: We stand ready to provide considerable emergency aid. We discussed the provision of aid bilaterally and multilaterally through the European Union at the EU Foreign Ministers General Affairs Council meeting yesterday. The problem at the moment is not finding the money to pay for humanitarian aid, but ensuring that the aid gets through. That is where we have been directing our efforts.
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): Last week, the Prime Minister was pretty dismissive when he was asked by the right hon. Member for Swansea, East (Donald Anderson) about the case for sanctions. Given the events and developments of the past week, is the Foreign Secretary prepared to reconsider the case for sanctions? Usually, when a country is in flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions, sanctions are one of the first measures to be considered to ensure enforcement and withdrawal.
Mr. Straw: I understand the hon. Gentleman's argument, but I do not believe that that would be an appropriate course for us to take at this time. I believe that the whole effort of the United Kingdom and the international community needs to be directed at securing a pathway to peace, as I shall explain.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): I thank the Foreign Secretary for giving way. The House will have heard his reply to the question about sanctions. Will he at least give the House an assurance today that there will be no arms exports to Israel and that no new licences will be granted for parts for equipment that has already been exported? Will he urge the United States to do the same?
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton): Will my right hon. Friend at any rate give the House an assurance that the Government will make it clear to the Israeli Government that military equipment supplied by Britain on condition that it would not be used for internal order purposes will not be used to suppress Palestinians?
Mr. Straw: I have already made that clear and have answered a number of questions about the matter. I deeply regret the fact that our very good military attaché discovered a little while ago that armoured personnel carriers built in Israel, but on the chassis of tanks exported from the United Kingdomit has to be said that they were exported 40 years agowere being used in the occupied territories. We took up the matter immediately with the Government of Israel and I reported it to the House on the day on which I found out about it. We have followed it up and I gave the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) a detailed answer about it yesterday. We had received undertakings from the Government of Israel that such exports would not be used in the occupied territories, but, as I told the right hon. and learned Gentleman yesterday in my answer, as a result of what I regard as unsatisfactory answers from the Government of Israel to our inquiries, we can no longer make decisions about arms exports to Israel on the basis of those undertakings.
Mr. Campbell: I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for this passage of his speech and for the answers that he provided yesterday. Should we take those answers and what he has just said to mean that he is no longer prepared to rely on the assurances of the Israeli Government as regards the use to which any arms exports may be put?
Mr. Straw: I gave a detailed and carefully drafted answer to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The words are clear, but it is extremely important that there should be the greatest certainty here. Under the consolidated European Union criteria, by which we abide carefully, we would not export anything that could be used for internal repression or for external aggression. That remains the basis of our policy. I am happy to ensure that copies of the consolidated criteria are drawn to the House's attention.
Progress on peace, when it happens, will come slowly through small, reciprocal steps. However, the confidence to agree and to implement those first steps will not be found on either side unless they are seen to be in a clear political context. To generate any momentum, we have to maintain at every stage a political perspective alongside the necessary concerns over security.
One of the terrible twists of the past few months is that each moment of hopeafter Tenet; after the Bush and Powell speeches in November; after the Arafat speech on 16 Decemberhas been followed by renewed outbreaks of violence, assassinations and suicide bombings, destroying, at least temporarily, the political climate for peace and playing into the hands of those on both sides whose preference is only to pursue their aims through military and terrorist means, not through compromise. The cruel irony of the situation in the middle east is that even as the parties have moved further apart, international opinion has moved further together towards a consensus about the framework of a lasting political solution.
We must all understand that there has to be more than a process: there has to be a destination. There is now a near-universal acceptance that that destination has to be the existence of two statesa state of Israel and a viable state of Palestine. That was the message of United Nations Security Council resolution 1397, which was passed unanimously last month. It is the basis of the peace plan put forward by Crown Prince Abdullah, which received backing from the Arab summit in Beirut last month.
Moreover, crucially, it is the policy of the United States. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 10 November, President Bush went further than any of his predecessors in expressing his support for Palestinian statehood. He said:
The "two-state solution" means what it says: two viable, secure, territorially sovereign and democratic states of Israel and Palestine, mutually recognised and committed to peaceful co-existence within agreed borders. Let us be clear that Palestine should have the usual characteristics of statehood: the necessary institutions and rights, including responsibility for its internal security; the freedom to conclude treaties; and freedom of internal movement of goods, services and people and of economic policy. We understand that precise borders would have to be negotiated, but Israel would have to withdraw in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
As I said a few minutes ago, one problem with the Oslo process was that it left some key issues unresolved, especially in respect of Jerusalem, settlements and refugees. Those issues are, however, so central both to the conflict and to its solution that they have to be addressed. At Camp David and at Taba, discussion was on the basis that the capitals on both sides would be based in Jerusalem. I believe that the parties should proceed on that basis.
On settlements, we have repeatedly called for Israel to withdraw. The settlements are contrary to international law, and all settlement activity must immediately be frozen. Again, Camp David and Taba provided the framework for handling those in the long-term future.
Mr. Straw: My first concern is that the House and the Government should decide what we think is right. That is what I am setting out. There are many stories about exactly what happened at Camp David and Taba, and there is much to be said on both sides. When I made a similar point about what happened at Camp David to a Palestinian leader last week, he said, "Well, we only got 80 per cent. of what we wanted at Camp David. We got 95 per cent. at Taba, which proves to us that we were right to resist at Camp David. But, at Taba, it was too late." Those are points that the Palestinians make, but there is much to be said on both sides. My concern, however, is not to crawl over the entrails of Camp David, Taba or any other dismal sequence of failed peace approaches, but to build on what positively has been achievedlittle though that isand to seek to set out not just a time scale for a settlement but some sense of a final destination.