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Israel

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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13.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will raise at the United Nations Israeli conduct in the occupied territories, which is contrary to internationally accepted conduct on the part of occupying powers.

The United Nations Security Council is discussing the situation in the occupied territories at this moment in response to a Jordanian request. We have made clear our grave concern at recent developments on the West Bank, including the dismissal of the three mayors, and our hopes for an end to the violence which can only harm the prospects for a settlement.

In addition to those points, and recognising that many matters could be so raised, will the Government make a special point of raising the forcible and illegal closure of Bir Zeit university with the harassment of staff and students, which has now occurred for the fifth time in five years?

The action at Bir Zeit is one of the factors, although not the only one, that has built up this unfortunate situation. In New York, we are now trying to reach agreement on a resolution that can be carried by the Security Council which might help remedy this problem.

Does my hon. Friend agree that we are concerned not only about the closure of Bir Zeit university but about the closure of many other university and education establishments? Surely it is the wider aspect as well as the specific one that the Government should be drawing to the attention of the United Nations in the context of any resolution.

As I tried to explain in answer to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence), we believe that many elements have built up this explosive situation on the West Bank, and through the Security Council and by other means we are trying to see what we can do to reduce the temperature.

The hon. Gentleman will be familiar with the Geneva convention, which deals with the rights and practices open to an occupying power when it militarily occupies another territory. We believe that some of the activities of the Israeli military Government in recent months have run counter to that. We also believe that it would be sensible for all concerned in the area to accept resolution No. 242, which calls for withdrawal from occupied territories, and to accept the right of Israel to exist in security.