On 24 March 2014 over 80 people including 24 parliamentarians across the political spectrum, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the UN, business and community leaders and community representatives gathered to honour the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Co-hosted by Parliamentary Friends of Palestine and the Parliamentary UN friendship group, Australia Palestine Advocacy Network was proud to be part of the event alongside the UN Information Centre, and the Palestinian Delegation for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
Maria Vamvakinou MP introduced the aims of the year of solidarity – which includes the mobilisation of international action towards a “comprehensive just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with International law and relevant resolutions of the United Nations”
Melissa Parke MP stated that “21 years after the Oslo Accords, Palestinians still remain stateless, continue to be subject to military occupation and to see illegal settlements built on their land. Settlements whose very purpose is to deny the Palestinians a viable State of their own. This is why the settlements are condemned as illegal by the UN General Assembly, by the UN Security Council, by the International Court of Justice, by the International Committee of the Red Cross and by the High Contracting parties of the Geneva Conventions”.
Christopher Woodthorpe, is the UN
representative in Australia and who read the statement for the launch of the year by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon, including the following: “This will be a critical year for achieving the two-State solution, bringing an end to the occupation that started in 1967, and securing an independent, viable and sovereign State of Palestine living in peace and security with the State of Israel where each recognizes the other’s legitimate rights.”
His Excellency, Izzat Abdulhadi, the Palestinian Ambassador to Australia (though not
recognised as Ambassador by the Australian Government) asked “Australia, as a friend of Israel, must, like John Kerry, speak truthfully about the effect of Israel’s actions. And Australia must act in ways that will create peace. Not sit back while Israel destroys the possibility of peace for itself, for Palestine, and for the region”
He continued: “As Palestinians we are committed to peace. We are committed to negotiations conducted in good faith. Settlement building must stop. It is impossible to negotiate with an occupier who is stealing our state while claiming to negotiate for peace. Israel does not need Palestine’s endorsement of identity as a Jewish State. Palestine recognised the State of Israel 21 years ago in the mutual exchange of letters of recognition which saw the commencement of the Oslo Accords, the creation of the Palestinian Authority and the first return of Palestinian refugees from exile.
He finished by saying “We need our state, it’s our right. Fully independent, fully sovereign, secure and based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as capital. In this year of solidarity it’s not me asking you for this. The International Community is asking the world and each of us in our capacities here in Australia to act together to make this a reality”.
The situation is complex but it is also quite simple … There is a group of people, called Palestinians, who for thousands of years have lived peaceably with other peoples in a small pocket of land on this planet earth, who cannot longer live peaceably on the land which has been historically their heritage. That is an injustice. And the injustice has been perpetrated, not simply by a single people but by an international people. And it has to be solved. It can’t remain the way it is. The status quo cannot continue. For if the status quo does continue, it affects the peace and security of the whole global community”.
“We are choosing for outcome which is just and fair and which imagines a world in the 21st century where people do not compete with each other but cooperate with one another – where we have a desire for an outcome in which we see the best in one another and respect each another. It is possible. It is possible. A solution is possible. We know what that solution is. It is based on 1967 boundaries, with land swaps. Where the rights of people to return are respected. Where East Jerusalem is the capital of a Palestinian State. We know roughly what the solution is. But we have to have a political will…
Overall, the Australian people he said “are not interested in supporting the status quo. We are not interested in supporting a situation where one powerful group exercises complete control over another group – tells them where to live; whether they can have electricity or not; whether they have water or not; whether their children get to school or not; whether pregnant women get to hospital or not. That situation is disrespectful to the one who has the power let alone it is disrespectful to the people who are made to suffer as a consequence.
I am here today in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Believing in a future which actually can set forward a vision for the world – it’s as big as that. …that you see a future in which the Palestinians have a viable State, in which their civil society can flourish, their children can go to school without fear, and in which the Israeli community similarly stands beside the Palestinian community in a peaceful and harmonious way. This is the future to which I am looking forward to and that is why I am very proud today to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people whose villages I have lived in, whose people I admire, and whose future I long for in hope.
“My friends in the political sphere, I actually do not think you’re keeping pace with the general feeling of the Australian people. I actually think the goodwill of the Australian people towards the Palestinian people is not reflected well enough in Australian politics…there is an understanding that the Palestinian people have actually become the victims, not simply of the policy of Israel itself, but of an international lack of will to put pressure on for a solution. So my plea to Australian politics is to catch up a little bit with the mood that’s in the Australian society, and I hope that this might be more obvious as a result of this year of solidarity.