§ 4. Mr. David Watkins
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement of the Government's policy in relation to the Middle East.
§ Sir Ian Gilmour
The Government's objective is a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the need for a land of the Palestinian people. We recognise the urgency of the search for such a settlement, and support all efforts directed towards this goal.
§ Mr. Watkins
Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that as long ago as November 1975 the late Mr. Reginald Maudling, speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, said that he thought that even then it was high time to talk with the Palestine Liberation Organisation? Does the right hon. Gentleman have any proposal to do so?
§ Sir I. Gilmour
If the Palestine Liberation Organisation were to accept fully the principle of a negotiated settlement and acknowledge Israel's right to exist, obviously there would be no difficulty about speaking to the PLO. We hope that the PLO does this and, when that 417 happens, it will be much easier to make contact with it.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes
Does the Minister agree that, despite the treaty between Israel and Egypt, no progress has been made in redressing the grievances of the Palestinians? Have the Government given any thought to the possible reconvening of the Geneva Conference with a view to bringing about a long-term settlement in this vital area?
§ Sir I. Gilmour
It is true so far that there has not been much positive progress towards redressing the grievances of the Palestinians. However, the Camp David agreements chart a course towards the implementation of the relevant resolutions, 242 and 338, and we believe that in present circumstances those resolutions offer the best hope of progress. We hope that the momentum generated by the peace treaty will lead towards a comprehensive settlement.