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Middle East: Armed Conflict

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 17 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken since August 2006 to secure the release of the Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hamas and Hezbollah in June and July 2006. (179110)

The UK remains concerned about the welfare of Gilad Shalit, captured by militants in Gaza, and Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev captured by Hezbollah in northern Israel in 2006.

The UK and the international community continue to work for the release of these soldiers as a high priority. Egypt has led international efforts to secure the release of Corporal Shalit. We have remained in close contact with the Egyptian authorities, as well as the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority, and continue to offer our support.

We believe that the most effective way to achieve the release of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev is to support efforts by the UN to mediate between the parties as part of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The UN Secretary-General has appointed a special facilitator to try and obtain the release of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. I was encouraged by an exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hezbollah in October 2007 and hope that this will lead to more progress in the negotiations for the release of these soldiers. We will continue to support the UN's efforts. We will also raise the fate of all of these servicemen with those who might have information about their whereabouts whenever an opportunity arises.

In November 2007 I met the wife and father of Ehud Goldwasser and expressed sympathy for their situation. Shortly before the first anniversary of their capture, I reiterated our call for the release of Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser in a debate in the House on 27 June 2007, Official Report, columns 87-92WH. In addition, I made a public statement calling for their release.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to Syria on using its influence to try to secure the release of the Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hamas and Hezbollah in June and July 2006. (179111)

The UK remains concerned about the welfare of Gilad Shalit, captured by militants in Gaza and Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev captured by Hezbollah in northern Israel in 2006. In July 2006, following the kidnap of Goldwasser and Regev, the Syrian ambassador was called to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Syria was urged to use its influence to secure the release of these soldiers. During meetings between Syrian and UK Ministers since then we have consistently called on Syria to play a helpful role in Lebanon and the middle east more broadly. This includes supporting full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the release of the captured soldiers. We also continue to support the efforts of the government of Israel, Egypt and others to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to Iran on using its influence to try to secure the release of the Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hamas and Hezbollah in June and July 2006. (179112)

The UK remains concerned about the welfare of Gilad Shalit, captured by militants in Gaza and Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev captured by Hezbollah in northern Israel in 2006. While the UK has not made any specific representations to the Iranian Government on this issue, we continue to encourage the Iranian Government to play a more helpful role in the region. We believe that most effective way to achieve the release of the soldiers captured by Hezbollah is to support efforts by the UN to mediate between the parties, as part of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. We also continue to support the efforts of the Government of Israel, Egypt and others to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit.