I also want to say to the Palestinian people, who, in my view, have legitimate aspirations and grievances, that we know that Hamas does not speak for you and represent you. To the people who believe, as I do—and as I think the vast majority of honourable members do—in a two-state solution I say: we cannot give up on that. A solution in which Israel and Palestine can live beside each other in peace and harmony is one that we cannot walk away from.
Mr BOWEN (McMahon—Minister for Climate Change and Energy) (17:44): What the world witnessed in Israel was and unspeakable act of barbarism. It was an attack which this House is rightly condemning. What Hamas has done is indefensible, and it is right that this parliament come together to make clear the view of the vast majority of Australians that the attack on Israel was unspeakable and indefensible and rightly can be, has been and will be condemned.
In all the barbarity that we’ve witnessed, what I find to be the most disturbing element of Hamas’s attack is that it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Hamas was trying to provoke Israel into further violence. When you look at the attack, you ask, ‘What was Hamas thinking? What did they think they were going to achieve? What message were they trying to send?’ It’s impossible, in my view, to avoid the conclusion that they were hoping that Israel would attack back in a way which would receive international opprobrium. They were actually trying to provoke an attack on the people that they claim, or pretend, to represent. Of all the unspeakable things that there were, that—actually trying to poke Israel, to provoke Israel, into attacking the Palestinian people—is the most unspeakable, in my view.
Many fine words have been spoken in this debate, but there are a few things that, on behalf of myself and my community, I want to say. Firstly, as I said, this attack, which we all watched, was unspeakable. I think the worst for me was probably the footage of the attack on the dance party. We can all relate it to people we know. They were young people watching a very celebratory event. I’m sure they were at first surprised and confused, when the attack started, at what was going on, and then they were running for their lives. They were people with so much to look forward to. Since then we’ve seen the kidnapping, the hostage-taking et cetera. That has been something that we wouldn’t have expected to see. There have been missile attacks on Israel. These are awful, terrible, horrible things, but we do expect them, and the Israeli people know and expect them as well, as much as they are abhorred. But the attack on that dance party was at a particular level of depravity, I think.
I also want to say to the Palestinian people, who, in my view, have legitimate aspirations and grievances, that we know that Hamas does not speak for you and represent you. To the people who believe, as I do—and as I think the vast majority of honourable members do—in a two-state solution I say: we cannot give up on that. A solution in which Israel and Palestine can live beside each other in peace and harmony is one that we cannot walk away from. As well, I want to say to Australians of Jewish faith and Islamic faith that here in Australia there is no place for hatred and there is no place for racism or religious bigotry. I’ve spoken to friends who’ve been subject to antisemitism in the street in recent days and weeks. That is unspeakable. I know of people who’ve suffered Islamophobia in the streets in recent days and weeks. I’d like to say it doesn’t happen in Australia, but it has happened. Again, all I can say to those people—people of Jewish faith, people of Islamic faith—is that we are with you and that whatever supports we can lend we will.
The government today has allocated $50 million to the security of faith-based places, as we should, and no doubt there’ll be more to do. That’s important, but what is equally important is sending the message that, whether you’re walking down the street as a Jew or as a Muslim, you should be able to walk down the street without your faith being an issue, without anybody giving you the benefit of their views on your faith. It’s none of their business what your faith is or how you live your life, and that message is very clear. I think the motion moved by the Prime Minister and supported by the opposition encapsulated all this very well. I thought it was a fine piece of work, a fine bringing together of the words. It reflected well the sentiment of—I can’t say the whole House, but I can say the vast bulk of the House and the vast bulk of the Australian people.
So we will, unfortunately—and I fear there’s worse to come—have more footage that will be difficult for all people, all Australians, to watch. But it won’t be as difficult for us as it will be for the innocent people of Israel and the innocent people of Palestine who did not seek this fight, who have aspirations simply to live in peace and harmony. This parliament, as we are obliged and expected to do, has come together in this moment with sentiments that are well expressed in the motion moved by the Prime Minister, which I endorse and associate myself with, as I know many members do. As we go through this difficult period, it’s more important than ever that Australians come together and stick together, and I have confidence that we will.