Mike Kelly MP – voicing support for Robert’s motion condemning BDS

photo of Mike Kelly MP
September 11, 2017

I urge support for this motion. I urge support for the state of Israel in its ongoing battle against the forces of evil and terrorism. We’re engaged in the very same struggle. We are locked in those same trenches with our friends of Israel. We need also to advance the cause of peace.

Full speech

Dr MIKE KELLY (Eden-Monaro) (11:41): I’m proud to be able speak in support of this motion, because it does reflect the unwavering support of both the coalition and Labor for the survival of Israel and its ability to live within secure and peaceful borders and for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own. The honourable member referred to the centenary of Beersheba coming up. A number of us, from both sides of parliament, will be attending that ceremony. It will be a chance to, once again, highlight the relationship in two world wars between our soldiers and the Jewish community, who carefully looked after them. They provided welfare services, and members of my own family, in both world wars, benefited greatly from that. And it helped inform the policy of the Labor government, post-Second World War, to be a midwife to the creation of the state.

Creating the two-state solution requires being open-minded and keeping open eyes about the issues involved here. We have to acknowledge the issues and the impediments to achieving that outcome that exist on the Palestinian side. When I had the Middle East desk in strategy group, when I was still in the Army, I convinced the Howard government to send an Australian Army officer over to the Palestinian Authority to help build its security sector, as part of US General Ward’s team. That was coming along reasonably well, until the 2006 elections when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. In 2007, as was mentioned, Hamas totally ousted any democratic form of institution that we were working on there or that existed, and we had to end that relationship because of our problems with Hamas.

This really highlights what is at the heart of those impediments. No democratic government in the Western world should have any business supporting an entity like Hamas, who routinely execute gay and lesbian men and women by throwing them off buildings, who have not had an election since 2006—in fact, we’re 11 years into the four-year term of Mahmoud Abbas at the present time—and who repress free trade unions, routinely execute opponents and really oppress women in the Gaza Strip. No woman in Australia would have a good time living in the Gaza Strip as it exists at the present time.

We also have widespread corruption in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which is really corrosive and undermining of their ability to set up governance institutions. So, when we talk about whether or not we should recognise a Palestinian state, we should understand that, under international law, their ability to do that does not exist at the present time because of the division between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. There’s no ability for them to enter into international agreements that will be binding on the territories. Obviously, we need to have fresh elections. We need to maintain leverage in affording recognition to ensure that those key areas that we have grievances with over their human rights abuses should be addressed. These are genuine and real impediments.

Of course, there could have been a Palestinian state if the Arab leadership of the region had accepted the Partition Plan in 1947, all the way through to 1967. After 1967 it would have been possible had the surrounding neighbours accepted Israel’s offer to hand back the territories, but, of course, the famous three noes—no peace, no recognition, no negotiation—were issued. There could have been a Palestinian state, as the member for Fadden highlighted, had there been acceptance of the offers on the table by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert and, as has come to light most recently, by Senator John Kerry even.

So it has been the Palestinian leadership that has really done a disservice to the long-suffering Palestinian people. Our efforts should be directed at helping to build their capability to become a state, to overcome these impediments and to govern and to overcome their human rights issues.

I also fully endorse the Labor Party and coalition stance against the BDS campaign. It is, essentially, an anti-Semitic campaign. It carries dark resonance of the thirties, when they were out there daubing stars of David on business shopfront windows and the numerus clausus era in the universities of the age, when the number of Jews was limited or Jews were excluded from university education altogether. Universities, of all places, should be places where open and free debate should be conducted. It’s been quite disgusting how many activities have been conducted to prevent free speech and to prevent the engagement, discussion and dialogue that should be essential to moving the peace process in the Middle East forward.

I urge support for this motion. I urge support for the state of Israel in its ongoing battle against the forces of evil and terrorism. We’re engaged in the very same struggle. We are locked in those same trenches with our friends of Israel. We need also to advance the cause of peace.

Debate adjourned.

Link to parliamentary Hansard 

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