Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Letter to the the Israeli Ambassador from the Chairman of the Committee

  I would like to thank you and your team for helping to facilitate the visit of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to Israel last month as part of our "Global Security: Middle East" inquiry. We had a rewarding and stimulating visit, and it has given the Committee a great deal to think about when it comes to consider its report to the House of Commons later this year.

  As you will be aware, a delegation from the Committee visited Syria and Lebanon. The delegation was able to visit south Lebanon, where it took the opportunity to see some of the work being carried out to clear unexploded ordnance from the country. Members of the Committee were told that there were up to a million unexploded cluster bomblets in south Lebanon following the war last summer. The delegation also heard that the Government of Israel had not yet handed over relevant maps locating this unexploded ordnance. A written answer provided to Parliament by our colleague, the Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt hon Hilary Benn on 22 March 2007 notes that the British Government has asked Israel to hand over these maps.

  As it begins to consider the conclusions of its final report, the Committee would like to invite the Israeli Embassy to provide formal written evidence on the issue of cluster munitions. The Committee would find it particularly valuable if the Israeli Embassy were able to provide written answers to the following two questions:

    1)  Has the Government of Israel been asked to hand over all the relevant maps locating unexploded ordnance to the British Government and other international actors working in Lebanon? If this is the case, and the request has been declined, what are the reasons for not handing over these maps?

    2)  What was the intended military purpose of using a large number of cluster munitions in south Lebanon at a late stage of the war last summer?

  I would be grateful if the Committee could receive your reply by 28 June 2007 so it can consider and draw on this evidence alongside the other evidence it has received. I should state that formal written evidence received by the Committee forms part of the public record and is usually published with the Committee's report.

  Thank you once again for your assistance with our inquiry.

21 June 2007

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