Melissa Parke MP – speech noting concerning human rights developments in regard to Israel and Palestine

photo of Melissa Parke MP
March 16, 2016

Palestinians do not have access to the regular Israeli court system—only the military courts, which do not apply the rule of law or natural justice. I hope this is a matter that can be taken up by the Australian parliament, as often occurs when other MPs around the world are unjustly detained… I hope that Australian MPs and political party officials being treated to trips to Israel insist on seeing and informing themselves about both sides of the issue.

Full speech

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (10:43): Last week, while I was back in Fremantle, constituents raised with me some troubling issues. Firstly, in December 2015 an Israeli military court sentenced an elected member of the Palestinian legislative council, Khalida Jarrar, to 15 months in jail. Human Rights Watch reported that ‘her case is rife with due process violations’, while Amnesty International said:

… her detention, the proceedings against her and her sentence appear to be punitive measures used to suppress her right to free and peaceful expression.

Palestinians do not have access to the regular Israeli court system—only the military courts, which do not apply the rule of law or natural justice. I hope this is a matter that can be taken up by the Australian parliament, as often occurs when other MPs around the world are unjustly detained.

Secondly, an article by Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept last month observed the growing trend of Western countries to criminalise activism against Israeli occupation. Greenwald reported prohibitions on boycotts against Israeli occupation in Israel itself, the UK, France, Canada and the US. Greenwald quotes BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray reporting in 2014 that ‘anti-BDS legislation has become a major goal of AIPAC’.

The boycott movement is not, as some have claimed, grounded in anti-Semitism. It is a peaceful means of protesting the ongoing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by Israel in terms of its continued settlement building, its decades-long military occupation, the crippling Gaza blockade and its discrimination against Palestinians within and outside of Israel.

As I said in this place in 2014:

… what then is the alternative to the vicious cycle of bloodshed we have witnessed in recent months? What is a legal and justified response to actions by Israel that the international community agrees are illegal? In my view, non-violent means of protest are and must be seen as legitimate. It is notable that both Israel and the US approve of boycotts and sanctions against other states such as Iran and Brunei …

Greenwald observes:

But only advocates of tyranny could support the literal outlawing of the same type of activism that ended apartheid in South Africa merely on the grounds that this time it is aimed at Israeli occupation (some of Israel’s own leaders have compared its occupation to apartheid).

Al Jazeera reports that Israel’s Labor Party has now adopted a plan to ‘get rid of Palestinians who are residents of Israel and have an Israeli identity card by cutting off Palestinian villages from Jerusalem’. This appears to be the Israeli government’s plan too given the rapid expansion of settlements. Even UK Prime Minister David Cameron said last month that ‘what had happened with the effective encirclement of occupied East Jerusalem’ was ‘genuinely shocking’. In the recent Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Rachelle Marshall observed:

Israel’s right-wing leaders are attempting to silence liberal Israeli groups across the board. The vague charge of “incitement,” long brought against Palestinians, is now being applied to Israeli citizens who defend Palestinian rights.

I also note a Haaretz report of the recent attempt by the Israeli legislature to pass a law that would enable a three-quarters majority of the Knesset to expel any MP. Joint List head Ayman Odeh has said the bill is ‘the parliamentary translation of the phrase “death to Arabs”.’

These are concerning developments. I hope that Australian MPs and political party officials being treated to trips to Israel insist on seeing and informing themselves about both sides of the issue.

Link to parliamentary Hansard

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