Major refuses to lay blame for killings
House of Commons
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Friday 19 April 1996
John Major said he wanted to discuss "this dreadful loss of innocent life" with other heads of state at the meeting of the G7 world economic powers.
"What we have to look at now is how we can prevent a recurrence," he said, adding that he had been in touch with French President Chirac, US President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Perez and Lebanese Prime Minister Harare.
He said he thought a solution was "possible and I don't think we are a long way away from such an agreement".
He refused to take sides in the argument about responsibility for the start of the crisis in south Lebanon.
"Everyone can look back at the Hizbollah attacks in Israel and the Israeli attacks in the Lebanon. That is non-productive. What is productive is to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.
In the Commons, Michael Heseltine, the Deputy Prime Minister, also trod a careful line supporting the Israeli government without endorsing its attempts to punish Hizbollah guerillas in south Lebanon. He told MPs that, looking at the issues involved in "the attacks that Hizbollah have been making on Israel ... it is quite apparent that one is facing a near- intractable problem of the deepest concern to the international community."
He was pressed by Labour backbench critics of Israel, including George Galloway (Glasgow Hillhead), who condemned the Israeli attack as a "reckless orgy of violence".
Mr Heseltine said he had personally seen Fijian troops - who sustained many of yesterday's casualties - serving for the UN. "They are an immensely impressive force and they do a wholly desirable task on behalf of the wider world," he said.
Malcolm Rifkind, the Foreign Secretary, said he was "gravely concerned" at the shelling.
At Westminster, MPs divided along pro-and anti-Israel lines. Emma Nicholson, the former Tory MP who crossed to the Liberal Democrats, said the attack was "utterly unbelievable". She said: "The Israelis must stop. They are losing sympathy fast, but much more importantly they are harming and hurting countless civilians and killing even children."
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...