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Volume 984: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps are being taken by the United Kingdom in the Security Council to make fully effective the work of the United Nations interim force in the Lebanon.

We voted for United Nations Security Council resolution 467 on the 24 April, and we shall continue to support the efforts of the United Nations and the troop contributors to enable UNIFIL to operate more effectively in South Lebanon.

Is the Minister aware that the behaviour of the so-called militia, armed and backed by Israel, is causing considerable bitterness among those countries that have contributed troops in the name of the international community to maintain peace in that area? Do not the Five permanent members of the Security Council have a clear duty to give the necessary diplomatic and other backing to make that force fully effective?

We agree that there is no justification for the continued Israeli presence and their support of the Haddad militia. Of course, Israel argues, with some justification, that it is concerned about infiltration into the UNIFIL area by Palestinian units, but it would be much easier for UNIFIL to look after that part of its job if it were not being harassed by Major Haddad's militia.

Presumably the Government recognise the provocation and agony caused by the murder of Christians in southern Lebanon by terrorists who infiltrate on occasions into northern Israel. Is it not, therefore, unreasonable that the Irish Republic, one of the peacekeeping countries, should have gone overboard in favour of the PLO which, incidentally, has connections with the Irish Republic Army?

I am not responsible for the policy of the Irish Government, but having visited UNIFIL, I know that the Irish battalion does a good job.

In view of the hon. Gentleman's great experience of economic sanctions, can he tell us when the Government intend, through the United Nations, to impose economic sanctions on Israel as a result of its persistent military attacks, both direct and indirect, on the State of Lebanon and on the United Nations forces there?

We have no such plan, but we have no hesitation in making our views known at every opportunity.

Is it not a fact that the purpose of establishing UNIFIL was to allow the Lebanese Government to restore their sovereignty over their territory? Should not the British Government, as one of the five permanent representatives, be taking a more positive role in order to see that objective fulfilled?

I agree with my hon. Friend, and we are doing everything that we can. The Foreign Minister of Lebanon was here on a private visit a few days ago and some of us had the chance to discuss the matter with him. I gave him that assurance. I have a great deal of admiration for the Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister and others in Lebanon who are trying, against considerable odds, to rebuild their country.

Will the Minister make it clear that, although we support the work of the United Nations force in Lebanon, there should not be infiltration through this area, because it will not be understood by the Israelis and will cause enormous uproar within the area if there are continuing terrorist incidents?