§ 5. Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East)
If he will make a statement on the middle east peace process following the Wye agreement.
§ 9. Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West)
If he will make a statement on action by the British Government to support the middle east peace process. 
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Robin Cook)
We believe that the Wye agreement offers the best way forward in the middle east peace process. We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Government of Israel to freeze progress on its implementation. Both sides should abide by the commitments that they entered into at Wye and refrain from unilateral acts that undermine it. Both the 695 Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority would benefit from progress on the peace. Both should now demonstrate an equal commitment to it.
§ Mr. Cook
I have just told the House that we would call on both sides to refrain from unilateral acts that would undermine the peace process. I fully understand the frustration in the Palestinian Authority about the fact that 4 May is the terminal date of the Oslo process. It was anticipated that the final stages would have been resolved by then. It remains the view of Britain that all options should be available through self-government decisions by the Palestinian people, not excluding the option of an independent state. However, we would hope that such progress could be achieved through the peace process and not by unilateral action.
§ Dr. Starkey
Since the Wye agreement was signed at the end of October, 251 Palestinian political prisoners have been detained by the Israeli Government. The Israelis have confiscated a further 3,000 acres of Palestinian land and accelerated the building of Jewish housing on it. What action are the British Government taking to represent to the Israelis that those activities must cease and that their unilateral suspension of the Wye agreement until after the Israeli general election in May is incredibly unhelpful, and not what one would expect of a state that has signed a binding agreement?
§ Mr. Cook
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that, if the Israeli Government wish to make progress with the peace process, they must carry out the implementation of the peace agreement that they agreed at the Wye Plantation talks.
With reference to settlements, my hon. Friend helpfully highlights the other side of unilateral acts—in this case, by the Government of Israel. I repeat our appeal to both sides to cease unilateral actions so that we can make progress via the negotiating table.
To answer my hon. Friend's question about what the Government are doing, I can tell her that, with our European colleagues, we prepare quarterly reports on settlement activity. Those reports are widely available and should inform public debate. We repeat our appeal to the Government of Israel to desist from those unilateral steps that make it so much more difficult to take forward a negotiated agreement.
§ Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex)
Given the right hon. Gentleman's commitment to an ethical foreign policy, does he agree that, in the light of Israeli obduracy, a continuing and monstrous injustice is being done to the Palestinians? Accordingly, does he not consider that it is about time we decoupled ourselves from the pointless, fatuous and ineffective middle east policy of the United States of America, to whose coat tails we continue to hang in that department; and that we should try to create a sensible, pragmatic, European policy that we can follow with pride and good sense?
§ Mr. Cook
The hon. Gentleman tells me not to bother, but Europe is underpinning the peace process with funding. If it was not for Europe putting that money behind the peace process, the process would have crumbled long ago. It little befits him to say that we should not bother to keep the peace process in being.
On the efforts of the United States, the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) should remember that the United States brokered the Wye Plantation agreement. That agreement provided a way forward, and Europe and America will now maintain pressure on both parties to ensure that they make progress in implementing that agreement.