§ Mr. Marlow
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the security problem that existed in the area of Gaza strip where he had been scheduled to open a British Council operation at the time at which he had been originally scheduled to carry out the opening.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
The trial of a Hamas leader from Gaza, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was scheduled to begin on 17 October when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had intended to open the new British Council office there. This would have been marked by a general strike and a significant increase in tension in the area. My right hon. Friend therefore decided to delay the opening which was carried out on his behalf by the consul-general in Jerusalem on 24 October.