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Mr. Campbell: The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point. No doubt he had in mind also those members of the armed forces who have been called upon to serve in the occupied territories and have declined to do so, doubtless at risk of prosecution or something of the sort.
The proposals that the Foreign Secretary advanced are, in substance, the same as the proposals of the shadow Foreign Secretary. They have the unequivocal support of the House because they represent a staged journey and a route map. They contain all the necessary ingredients for a settlement, especially the need for it to be buttressed by UN resolution and acknowledgement that substantial
It is right also to refer to the obligations of other Arab states. There is no point in going to a summit of Arab nations and endorsing the Saudi Arabian proposal if one is not willing and prepared to implement the responsibilities that will fall to one's country if the proposal is implemented.
There was reference also to the principle of mutual dependence, which can be achieved only by negotiation and agreement. It is relatively straightforward in the relative calm of the Chamber to argue for these things; it is much more difficult to see them carried through. The unique quartet of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia is probably the best bet for ensuring that the things that we believe are right, and which in my judgment are most certainly in the interests of both the people of Israel and the Palestinians, are finally implemented.
Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): First, I apologise for my voice. I had dust in my lungs once before from when I went down a coal mine; this time it is dust from Israeli tanks in Jenin. That is no exaggeration. I am grateful to the BBC and "Today" for giving me the opportunity to go there. We do not often thank "Today", but I do so most warmly on this occasion. It was kind of those concerned to enable me to go.
Along with the head of the UN relief programme, I went to Jenin on Friday, where I was able to see at first hand some of the things that were going on. We had tremendous difficulty getting into the town to begin with; there seemed to be many tank commanders every step of the way. It took us a total of six hours to deliver relief supplies to some of the 1,000 women and children who had been taken out of the refugee camp a few days before. Those women and children could describe what they saw; they were not particularly interested in the United Nations presence, although we were the only ones in town. There was a complete curfew. At one point, we saw a sea of men going down the road, but within half an hour they came back. The Israeli army had called out every man over 16 to a central point. I found it chilling just to watch that.
We tried to get to some of the hospitals, as we had medical supplies and doctors and nurses in the UN convoy, which was clearly marked with UN flags and "UN" on the side of the vehicles. However, we had great difficulty getting to the hospitals, and it took us six hours to deliver important medical supplies. Most of the hospitals had had their electricity cut; only one small private hospital had its own generator. People were therefore working in difficult conditions. The UN people with us who spoke Arabic took down in detail the statements of the women to whom we spoke. They said that when the Israeli army came into the camp, it called people out of their houses, particularly men. They had seen men come out of houses with their hands above their heads who were then shot. They saw people wounded on
Our presence in the town was not popular with the Israeli military and at one point we were surrounded by six tanks. I did not know that tanks were quite as big as some of those that I saw. I was pleased to talk to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on a mobile telephone and describe what was going on. I was glad that he took immediate action and put out a press release later in the day. He called in the Israeli ambassador in London and asked people at the embassy to go to Mr. Sharon's office in Tel Aviv. The UN representatives were impressed by the fact that the Foreign Secretary was on the telephone, particularly when they saw the press release later in the day. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for taking that action.
I have no idea what happened at the camp, apart from what we heard in those eye-witness accounts. However, one of the men who came back down the road in our direction was the mayor of Jenin, and he talked about a catastrophe. He claimed that up to 1,000 people had been killed. I have no idea whether or not that is true, but that is what he said. He said that what happened would be counted among world tragedies, like Sabra and Chatila, for which Mr. Sharon had some responsibility in the past.
Today, I checked with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the organisation with which I went into Jenin. It waited for eight hours yesterday with two trucks of food and water and a medical team. It was then allowed in, but was not given a liaison officer, nor was it allowed to offload its supplies. It managed to throw food to 30 people on its way out. Today, UNRWA has been allowed into the camp, but only into one area. It has set up a distribution point. A curfew is still operating, but the Israeli defence force has promised not to fire on people collecting food and water.
Yesterday, Richard Cook, head of UNRWA, was denied access not only to the camp but to Jenin itself. With him was the director of relief and social services and the new co-ordinator of relief projects in Jenin, who had flown in from Jordan, as well as representatives of the Swiss, Danish and Dutch Governments.
I spoke to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Two small hospitals are near the entrance to the refugee camp. A man from the International Red Cross had been standing by there for four days when I met him. He said that he could see people in the windows of some of the houses in the refugee campsthat is, the houses that are still standing.
The Palestine Red Crescent reports that from 6 am to 2.10 pm today, its teams awaited permission to enter the camp and resume rescue operations. At 2.51 pm, teams were allowed into the camp, but with an Israeli army escort. At 3 pm, the army escort left the teams 11 paramedics, three doctors, 10 IRC personnel and two ambulances. The teams distributed water and provided care for the sick. No search and rescue teams were operating in the camp.
Yesterday, the teams worked in one area that covers about 10 per cent. of the camp. Seven bodies were recovered and seven others could not be recovered. The teams are asking for equipment that is used after earthquakes, when houses are demolished on such a scale. They believe that after all this time people are still alive
I cannot tell the House about the women and childrenthey were so traumatised and upset. They were not interested in the UN food and clothing, and instead kept calling for news of their husbands and sons, from whom they had not heard for several days and still have not heard today.
No political or security objective can justify targeting and punishing civilians in this way. It is not enough for the European countries simply to bleat condemnation. They need to withdraw European ambassadors from Israel, they need to impose an arms embargo, as Germany has already done, and they should consider what economic sanctions can be imposed. After all, British taxpayers' money is being spent on infrastructure in the west bank, and that is being ground to dust by the Israeli army.
This is the moment when the European Union should show its mettle and implement its own plan, regardless of the objections or intransigence of the United States or any other country. At present the Palestinian leadership are so beleaguered that they are not in a position to negotiate anything. The Israelis' present policy is not working, and the sooner they realise it, the better.
Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal): The subject is difficult to consider with any degree of clarity, not least for the reasons given by the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell). Those of us who have been targeted by the National Front because of our refusal to take other than a non-racist position know just how beastly, unpleasant and utterly immoral is the racist understanding of any situation, not least the one under discussion.
To try to talk about Israel in these circumstances is often to invite the use of one's words as in some way racist, rather than political. I much honour Members of the House and even more those people in Israel who have raised their voices with the same degree of honest and objective criticism in respect of what has happened in the middle east as they have on other issues, and who have been consistent in upholding human rights, even when it pains them to speak in such a way of the Government of Israel.
I hope that I am one of those who does not have to start off by saying that he has always been, in the general sense rather than in any particular sense, a friend of Israel, who is committed to the maintenance of the state of Israel, and who believes that we have a responsibility for that, because it was our forefathers who to a large extent both made it possible and recognised its rightness.
In that context, however, there is a fundamental distinction between the Israeli action and that of the Arabs: Israel is a state that has the trappings of a state and claims the legitimacy of a state. The more it rightly claims that legitimacy, the more it must be judged by the standards of a state and of democracy. That is where the distinction lies. It is not that one excuses for one moment the actions of individuals such as Chairman Arafat or Saddam Hussein; it is simply that one cannot treat as acceptable the decision of a democratically elected Prime