Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-239)|
TUESDAY 23 APRIL 2002
220. Have you a figure for the amount that is
(Mr Prentice) Half a billion.
(Mr Bradshaw) Half a billion dollars.
221. US dollars?
(Mr Prentice) Yes.
Sir John Stanley
222. Minister, I have three questions, if I
may. Could you set out for us how the British Government sees
the settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, in the context
of the successful wider prosecution of the war against terrorism?
Specifically, does the British Government see it as being desirable,
or does it see it as being an essential prerequisite of the successful
prosecution of the wider war against terrorism, to have first
achieved a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians?
(Mr Bradshaw) I think we would say it was highly desirable
rather than an essential prerequisite.
223. Do you see that there is any near-term
prospect of achieving such a settlement?
(Mr Bradshaw) As I said earlier in my remarks to your
Chairman, I think that there is, amidst the destruction and the
misery on the ground, this unprecedented level of international
consensus which couldcouldif we had a little bit
of courage and leadership shown by both sides in the region itself,
lead to a rapid change. I will give you one example. The mood,
I believe, in the Palestinian Authority would change very, very
quickly if ordinary Palestinians felt that Israel, under its current
Prime Minister, was serious about a just political solution. I
really do believe that. If you ask ordinary Palestinians, many
of whom are intelligent, educated people, it is quite shocking
some of the things they say about how they feel about the actions
of suicide bombers, for example. If you then go on to ask them,
if you study the opinion research that has been done, if there
were political discussions going on that they felt would lead
to a political solution, the mood could change very quickly. I
think exactly the same could be said about public opinion in Israel.
So I think the situation could change very quickly for the better,
and of course it would be immensely helpful in the prosecution
of the campaign against terrorism further afield if there were
not the current situation in the Middle East, but I do not think
one should be made conditional on the other. If you face threats
that are very real in other parts of the world, you have to deal
with them irrespective of whether you have resolution of a conflict
Sir Patrick Cormack
224. But not in respect of the consequences?
(Mr Bradshaw) No, absolutely, and of course those
consequences would be taken into account.
Sir John Stanley
225. The second question I want to put to you
is could you spell out to us the British Government's policy towards
the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories? Is it the
British Government's view that they should all be removed, or
does the British Government contemplate a situation in which some,
possibly the majority, might be retained, but within an independent
and viable Palestinian State?
(Mr Bradshaw) It is not a question of what we believe,
Mr Chairman. Those settlements are illegal under international
law. That is absolutely clear, and the issue of settlements would
have to be dealt with in any final settlement. We hope very much
that the agreements that were nearly reached at Taba could be
built upon. There may well be the option of land swaps and the
retention of some of the settlements in return for existing Israeli
green-line land passing into a new Palestinian State, but the
principle of the settlements has to be resolved, because they
are, and have been, one of the most serious obstacles to peace.
226. I appreciate that, and I understand the
legal position, but I am asking what is the British Government's
position? Does the British Government believe that the settlements
need to be removed?
(Mr Bradshaw) It is not up to us, with respect, to
impose a settlement on the two sides.
227. No, what is the British Government's policy
position on the West Bank settlements?
(Mr Bradshaw) Our policy is that the settlements are
illegal, and what happens to them would depend on what the two
sides agree in any settlement. We do not want to dictate in advance,
and I do not think it would be helpful for us to dictate in advance,
the parameters of any agreement that the Palestinian and Israeli
sides might wish to enter into. We do not think that is helpful.
As I have clearly stated, though, our view of the settlements
is that they are illegal under international law, and it is highly
probable, in my view, that the vast majority of them would have
228. The third question I want to put to you
is one which is in the same area as Andrew Mackinlay covered earlier,
but on a slightly different tack. The Government has been very
strongly supportive of the establishment of an international criminal
court, and the appropriate legislation has gone through Parliament
as far as this country is concerned. I would like to ask you,
with regard to the killings that have been taking place of Israelis
by Palestinian suicide bombers and the killings that have been
taking place of Palestinians by Israeli armed forces in the recent
conflagration, does the British government consider that both
of those might be matters that would be subsequently admissible
before an international criminal court?
(Mr Bradshaw) The problem there, Sir John, is that
the International Criminal Court does not actually come into being
until July, and it is not retrospective, so the question you are
asking I am afraid is hypothetical. I think what we would say
is that we condemn all illegal and criminal acts.
229. I understand the point you are making about
retrospection, but let me put it to you further on, then. If events
similar to those that have been taking place in recent weeks,
that I referred to, took place subsequent to the establishment
of the International Criminal Court, does the British Government
believe that those may be matters that would be potentially subject
to reference to the International Criminal Court?
(Mr Bradshaw) They may well be, but so far Israel
has not ratified the International Criminal Court, so I think
we may face some potential difficulties there.
230. Minister, given that the US provided almost
US$2 billion worth of military assistance to Israel in 2001 alone,
when Colin Powell goes back should he not turn round to them and
say, "You're not having any more"?
(Mr Bradshaw) Those, Mr Chairman, are really questions
that you need to direct to the American Administration.
231. But would you have a view on it?
(Mr Bradshaw) Our view at the moment, as I think I
have stated, is that we need to be concentrating all our efforts
on trying to find a diplomatic solution, but we have a coincidence
of factors which I believe give us an opportunity at the moment,
and I am not convinced at this stage that the sorts of measures
that you appear to be advocating by your question would be necessarily
helpful in achieving what we want to achieve, which is actually
a difference in the situation on the ground, a withdrawal, a ceasefire
and return to meaningful talks.
232. Actually the figure of US$2 billion in
one year alone, in military assistance, makes some of the other
figures which you were talking about earlier pale into insignificance
about the rebuilding of Palestine. Surely is that not the biggest
lever the Americans have in getting Israel to agree to a settled
(Mr Bradshaw) It is a big lever, Mr Olner, you are
absolutely right. That is why I have said previously that American
engagement in the Middle East peace process is absolutely vital.
It would also be correct to observe that America has used its
economic levers in the past to encourage Israel to make moves
that it has regarded as being desirable. Really you could question
as to when America feels that it should or could use those levers;
they are a matter for the United States and not for the British
233. I would surmise that there would perhaps
be a lot of difficulty in an American President getting through
his Senate and Congress any reduction in aid to Israel. Would
you not think that that position might well change if that US$2
billion worth of US military aid were proven to have murdered
innocent civilians in Jenin and in the settlement areas in the
(Mr Bradshaw) It could change, but I would suggest
to you that the signs from the United States do not suggest that
that is about to happen. On the contrary, all the opinion polls
across the Atlantic suggest overwhelming support not just for
the Sharon Government's policies but also for American policy
in the region. I am not aware of any signs that that is about
to change dramatically.
234. Given the very good newsor not the
very good news, but the excellent report by Amnesty International
on the UN fact-finding mission on what happened in Jenin, has
the UK Government received a satisfactory explanation from the
Israelis as to why access to Jenin and other places was denied
for so long, particularly the settlement areas?
(Mr Bradshaw) No. As I have already said, we have
not received a satisfactory explanation about that or about very
many other things that we have been concerned about.
235. Could I ask if we have asked?
(Mr Bradshaw) Of course.
236. We did ask?
(Mr Bradshaw) Of course.
237. So the Israelis refused point blank to
tell the UK Government what was happening in Jenin and other places?
(Mr Bradshaw) I would not say that. Sometimes we are
provided with explanations, but we do not find them particularly
Sir Patrick Cormack
238. Mr Bradshaw, you have several times talked
about things being a matter for the United States, and one completely
understands why you have used those terms. However, we do have
this very special relationship, we are principal partners in the
grand coalition against terrorism, and therefore it is not really
very satisfactory just to say that this is a matter for the United
States. Are you absolutely convinced the United States is taking
fully and properly into account the views of HM Government and
the other partners in the coalition?
(Mr Bradshaw) Yes, I am, and, as I said earlier, we
make those views plain to the United States at every opportunity.
It is not always the most effective way of conducting diplomacy
to make those views plain in public, but of course we express
our views forcefully to the United States. In the end, though,
the United States will take its decisions based on what it sees
as its own national interest.
239. And, one hopes, the international interest.
May I ask you one final question. You were very helpful in your
answers to Sir John on the West Bank settlements. What is HM Government's
position on Jerusalem? How do you think Jerusalem should eventually
finishas an international city or as a divided city?
(Mr Bradshaw) Again, I am afraid I am going to repeat
a lot of what I said in my answer to Sir John on settlements.
The eventual status of Jerusalem is a question for final-status
agreement, but our official position is that western Jerusalem
is de facto Israeli territory and that east Jerusalem is
occupied territory, and that we would expect any final settlement
to build on the agreements that were already on the verge of being
made at Camp David and Taba, that in effect mean that east Jerusalem
would become the capital of a future Palestinian State. It is
inconceivable to me that you could have a viable Palestinian State
or that the Palestinian or indeed the Arab world would settle
for anything less.