Over the course of his life Ariel Sharon saw the establishment of the modern Jewish state and fought for its survival as a soldier and as a politician. It is now up to a new generation of leaders to resolve the tensions which continue to threaten the peace and the stability of that region.
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina—Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance) (12:26): I commend the member for Higgins for her fine words and eloquent speech. This is an important condolence motion. Ariel Sharon was the giant of Israel and Israeli, and indeed global, political life. As a soldier and a statesman, Sharon was a warrior to the end. Born on 27 February 1928 in Kfar Malal in what was then Palestine but is now part of Israel, Ariel Sharon was a leading figure in Israeli military operations for decades, most notably in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
He also demonstrated that it is possible for a soldier in wartime to become a champion of peace. A founding member of the Likud party and later the Kadima party, he served as defense minister, industry minister and ultimately in 2001 as Prime Minister, over a period spanning more than 20 years, 1981 to 2006. His decision to pull out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 showed a great capacity to take unpopular decisions in pursuit of peace. The stroke he suffered in 2006 was a reminder that even the great amongst us are only human. After eight years in a coma, Sharon died on 11 January 2014 at the age of 85.
Over the course of his life Ariel Sharon saw the establishment of the modern Jewish state and fought for its survival as a soldier and as a politician. It is now up to a new generation of leaders to resolve the tensions which continue to threaten the peace and the stability of that region. I hope that in my lifetime we finally see the two-state solution come to fruition to allow Israelis and Palestinians to coexist in peace and prosperity, sharing an area of the world that has special significance to them both. As the foreign minister noted in her comment to the House yesterday, the Australian government supports the resumed negotiations between Israel and Palestine and we welcome the leadership being shown by the United States of America in those negotiations, particularly the role of the Secretary of State, John Kerry. As the Deputy Prime Minister remarked on the day of Ariel Sharon’s passing:
He was a controversial figure but undeniably a leader of conviction.
Vale, Ariel Sharon.