It is imperative that the cycle of violence and bloodshed does not resume. Children in Israel and the Palestinian territories deserve a future that holds more than the prospect of perpetual conflict, destruction and loss of life. The ceasefire must continue to hold.
Ms LIU (Chisholm) (10:46): I’m speaking with a heavy heart on this private member’s motion. The recent violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories is and should be of grave concern to all of us. Whether or not we know anyone in the affected areas or have strong feelings on the conflict, as thinking, caring human beings we should all recognise its far-reaching impact.
In a statement on 12 May, Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Marise Payne, on behalf of the Australian government, unequivocally called on all leaders to take immediate steps to halt violence, to maintain restraint and to restore calm. She said what many of us were thinking:
Violence is no solution. Rocket attacks and indiscriminate acts that fuel the cycle of violence and bloodshed are never justified.
More concretely, she called for a halt to actions that increase tensions, including land appropriations, forced evictions, demolitions and settlement activity, and for a halt on unilateral actions that threaten peace in the region. Those messages, as well as those of the Prime Minister, have been reiterated to both Israeli and Palestinian officials and at forums including the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.
Now a ceasefire has been declared and the process of getting us back to a more permanent peace can begin in earnest. The Morrison government welcomes the ceasefire and commends the Egyptian and US diplomatic efforts that led to it, including US President Biden’s direct conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas. It is imperative that the cycle of violence and bloodshed does not resume. Children in Israel and the Palestinian territories deserve a future that holds more than the prospect of perpetual conflict, destruction and loss of life. The ceasefire must continue to hold.
I recognise that, while this conflict is happening far away, many in the Australian community are hurting at this difficult time. Tensions and emotions are naturally running high. Some might say that they should run high, given the seriousness of this issue, but I hope that cooler heads prevail. Compromise is not a dirty word, and calm, respectful discussion, whether it is between governments or around the dinner table here in Australia, is not a sign that you do not care—quite the opposite, in fact. It means that you recognise the gravity of the situation, the sanctity of human life and the importance of adopting a sober, rational attitude to the issues at hand.
Australia joins the international community in supporting new approaches to peaceful solutions, and we add our voice of practical encouragement to those of the US, the UK, Egypt, the EU and others. The focus of all parties to the conflict must now be on a return to direct and genuine peace negotiations as soon as possible with a view to defining a just, durable and resilient peace agreement. I’m sure that all of us in this place, however we feel about who may be at fault, wish for an end to the conflict and for peace in the region. For as long as I can remember, this has seemed like an untenable dream, but it is only if we believe that it is out of reach that it will remain so.