At this stage, there doesn’t seem to be a pathway for this to stop. We can’t just keep killing people until it becomes so horrendous that a decision has to be made. That decision needs to be made now. There needs to be a ceasefire on both sides so some form of humanitarian resolution can be agreed upon. It just can’t continue.
Mr COULTON (Parkes—Chief Nationals Whip) (18:19): I rise tonight to speak on this motion on the Hamas attacks on Israel. The images from those initial attacks on Israel, on the kibbutz and the music festival, were horrendous. I want it on the record that I completely condemn Hamas for undertaking that action. There is no justification, and the loss of life was horrendous. However, this has got to stop. A child is a child, whether they’re an Israeli child or a Palestinian child. A civilian is a civilian, whether they’re an Israeli civilian or a Palestinian civilian. The images that we’ve seen over the last couple of days of the destruction in that part of the world should be a clear incentive to come to a solution for an issue that has been plaguing that part of the world for decades.
It’s no secret in this place that I have connections to the Palestinian people here in Australia. I have spent time in the West Bank, and my opinion on the circumstances there have been formed by what I’ve seen with my own eyes. This has got to be the wake-up call for the rest of the world to work with the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to a resolution that will end this violence forever. Otherwise we are just going to see recurrences of the sorts of things we’ve seen in the last week or so time and time again. We’ve got to remember that Gaza is a very, very small piece of land, with two million people. There is nowhere to escape this violence. People are fleeing to the south, to safe zones, where they are still finding themselves in deep danger. There is no way out.
I think that’s the difficult thing here. At this stage, there doesn’t seem to be a pathway for this to stop. We can’t just keep killing people until it becomes so horrendous that a decision has to be made. That decision needs to be made now. There needs to be a ceasefire on both sides so some form of humanitarian resolution can be agreed upon. It just can’t continue.
Many people from that part of the world, whether they be Jewish people or Palestinians, have found refuge in Australia. We should remember that their children should be able to walk the streets freely and attend school without being put in danger, whether they be Jewish children or, as I’ve heard this morning, Palestinian children. Those people have taken refuge in this country, and this is not the Australian way. It’s not the Australian way to undertake that form of intimidation and violence here. You don’t solve the problems of Israel and Palestine by playing them out on the streets of our cities here in Australia. That is not a solution for anyone.
As I said, I’ve spent time in the West Bank, and, quite frankly, it was considered too dangerous to go to Gaza even six or seven years ago when I was there. But, from what I’ve seen in the West Bank and from the people I’ve spoken to, when people lose hope, when there’s no future, evil prospers, and that’s what we’re seeing now. I’ve spoken to university students in Bethlehem—bright, intelligent, beautiful people—who had absolutely no hope of a future with any positivity. That’s the sort of environment that fosters the horrendous violence we’ve seen.
There needs to be a solution to get rid of Hamas, because, quite frankly, they knew what was going to happen. They see the death of their own people as some sort of noble cause that will send a message to the rest of the world. They don’t seek a solution to the problem. They are seeking the elimination of Israel. That’s not going to happen. There needs to be a way forward.
We hear a lot about Australia’s support for a two-state solution. My personal view is that that would be very difficult to achieve. But, because it is difficult and because it is complex, through the support of other countries, whether it’s other Arab countries or the United States, efforts need to be going into finding a way to peace, because this can’t escalate. With Hezbollah starting to be active in the northern part of Israel and with the actions from other states nearby, the potential for this to escalate into something completely horrific is quite high.
I have no answer. The issue is so dire, so horrible, with no way forward. All I’m asking for is that we stop this madness, that we stop this death, and that we sit down and work on a way to save lives. Just tonight I’ve seen images of dead and badly wounded children—toddlers. What have they or the children that were murdered in the initial attack by Hamas ever done? It’s just senseless bloodshed and it needs to stop.