However, what we saw last month in Palestine was horrific. Hundreds of Palestinians, including children and women, have been killed. Thousands have been injured. This all happened in the middle of one of the world’s worst pandemics. More than 50,000 have been left homeless.
Mr O’DOWD (Flynn—Deputy Nationals Whip) (10:56): I’m pleased to speak on the private member’s motion on recent violence in Palestine. It’s been a terrible time for Palestine for a very long time. If you want to put a date on it, it goes back to 1948. However, what we saw last month in Palestine was horrific. Hundreds of Palestinians, including children and women, have been killed. Thousands have been injured. This all happened in the middle of one of the world’s worst pandemics. More than 50,000 have been left homeless. Of course, Israelis did not get off scot-free. There were many injuries and deaths in Israel. We have watched the horror unfold in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and many towns in Israel.
Around Australia, people have gathered for Palestine in numbers never seen before. Fifteen thousand attended protests in Melbourne and Sydney. There have been other events in Hobart, Cairns, Darwin, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, Newcastle and Wollongong to show their support for peace in that troubled land.
Israel needs to be held accountable. They have the power to solve the problem. They have, hopefully, the diplomatic processes through their alliance with America to achieve this. Thousands of Palestinians have gone into the streets in a campaign to clean up the destruction caused by the latest bombings in their fair land. The slogans that has united them is, ‘We will rebuild it.’ Such resilience, such bravery and such determination have been witnessed. It is so very important that the cycle of violence ceases and does not resume. The ceasefire agreement must be upheld.
Youth unemployment in Palestine is very high, something around 70 per cent. This cannot continue. If it does, it will only bring about more unrest. Palestinians deserve equality. The time theft that is prevalent in their society on a day-to-day basis cannot last. This is sure to bring about unrest. The apartheid culture that exists has no future. It will not bring about an amnesty.
I remind Australians that Palestinian forces fought alongside Anzacs in World War I, and the Battle of Beersheba took place in southern Israel. That is, of course, a famous battle that the Allies, including Anzacs and the Palestinians won, forcing the Germans and the Ottoman Empire further north, towards Turkey.
Seventeen thousand eight hundred and eighty-four Australians have written to their elected representatives calling for action. Our voices here in Parliament House are paramount so that Palestinians can achieve freedom and equality. I hope to see the fulfilment of the promise of independence made to Palestinians by the United Nations 73 years ago. I ask that we all stand for justice, fairness and equality today and stand with Palestine and Israel to bring about everlasting peace. In my two trips to Palestine and Israel, I never heard one Palestinian say to me that they wanted anything else but peace. They love the thought of peace. They want to bring their people out of the refugee camps where they have been since 1948 in some cases. All they want is peace. They realise it must seem a very complex issue for people who live outside of Israel, Palestine and Gaza, but it can be resolved. But it will need the determination and will of the people, and the Australian government can help in bringing about this peace and equality that they so deserve.