The International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is about promoting solidarity; it is about saying that what is happening in Palestine, what is happening in the Middle East, is wrong and that we have got to bring about a change.
Ms HALL (Shortland—Opposition Whip) (11:43): I agree wholeheartedly with the member for Reid when he says that to be a member of this parliament and do nothing is wrong. We were elected to this parliament to make our country and the world a better place. We have allowed the situation in Palestine, in the Middle East, to continue since 1949, and it is unacceptable.
The International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is about promoting solidarity; it is about saying that what is happening in Palestine, what is happening in the Middle East, is wrong and that we have got to bring about a change. In 2011, I visited Palestine with the member for Calwell and the member for Fremantle. What I experienced there was not what I thought I was going to experience. It was something which I was not prepared for. It was something that I did not know existed in that form. Prior to my visit, I did not quite understand what ‘occupation’ meant. It was not until I saw the separation wall, until I learned of the difficulties faced by the Palestinian people each and every day of their lives and until I learned of the barriers that were put in place of these people by the bureaucracy that I understood. And, of course, until I visited Palestine I did not really understand what the settlements were. I did not know about the housing demolitions that have created so much angst amongst the Palestinian people.
I visited Gaza, and my visit to Gaza was life changing. The Gaza people have had three conflicts within the last six years. Each and every day of their life is a struggle for their existence. I visited UN schools in Gaza and I listened to young people. I listened to how human rights have been incorporated into the curriculum. I learnt how important it was for the human rights of people to be respected and about the impact that the occupation has had in Palestine.
It is imperative that the Middle East conflict comes to an end. Until peace—and lasting peace—has been reached in the Middle East, it will have an enormous impact on the world. Not only will peace benefit Palestine but it will also benefit the Israeli people.
A two-state solution is one that provides respect to both parties. I do not know how we can stand in this parliament, deny the right for the Palestinian people to exist and just give lip-service to the fact that we support a two-party solution, yet, at every opportunity that we have as a nation, we stand up and vote against that happening. We put in place barrier after barrier. We show no support for reaching that solution. As the member for Reid said in this place, how can we in all conscience allow this to continue? I cannot. I cannot stand here and argue that what is happening in Palestine is the right thing. I cannot argue that the blockade should continue in Jerusalem, where sick people are denied access to medical treatment. I cannot support a situation where the lives of people living in Jerusalem are subjected to the worst sort of apartheid. I cannot under any circumstance support the continuation of the settlements.
The UK and the Spanish parliaments, as the member for Fremantle stated in her contribution, have stated their support for Palestine. I think it is time for us, as a parliament, to stand up and put on record our support for the Palestinian people and our real support for a two-party solution.