Not only is it a sensitive issue; it is a complicated issue. It is a complicated issue. To try to better my knowledge, some three or four weeks ago I travelled to Israel, sponsored by AIJAC—to better understand. Since returning, I have met and spoken at length with those on the other side of the chamber to better understand the Palestinian perspective, because the view that was put to us was through a particular prism.
Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (16:34): Many speakers have spoken about the sensitivity of this matter, and it is a sensitive issue. To those who are listening to the broadcast and those who have the privilege of sitting in the gallery: one should not make the assumption that this side of the chamber is pro-Egypt and the other side is pro-Palestine. That is not the case, and that is not what we are debating here today. There are good people that sit on either side of the chamber, and there is a healthy respect in this parliament for both cases.
Not only is it a sensitive issue; it is a complicated issue. It is a complicated issue. To try to better my knowledge, some three or four weeks ago I travelled to Israel, sponsored by AIJAC—to better understand. Since returning, I have met and spoken at length with those on the other side of the chamber to better understand the Palestinian perspective, because the view that was put to us was through a particular prism. What we hear today in this MPI debate is the government’s ill-judgement and mishandling of the decision to reverse the capital state. Out of interest, I googled what the capital of Israel was, and it came up with ‘Jerusalem’. It didn’t preface it with ‘west’. It just came up as ‘Jerusalem’. But the moral of that story is that you may not believe everything that’s on Google.
During the election campaign, when Labor suggested to the Australian public that they had a plan and it was a very good plan—none of us know what the plan is at the moment—I don’t remember a broad outline of a plan in the foreign policy space about shifting the capital. I just don’t recall that. So it is fair enough that, on behalf of my 1,000-strong Jewish community, I get to my feet and call out what I see.
I think what’s also salient is that while I was in Tel Aviv—some interesting, fun facts. Tel Aviv recently just passed New York, London and Rome as the most expensive city in the world, showing the advancement of Tel Aviv. We spent a considerable amount of time in Jerusalem. As a part-practising Catholic I found the historical content there overwhelming—from an archaeological perspective, from a religious perspective, through the prism of Christianity. Your guidebook around Jerusalem is a Bible. Your guide says to you: ‘That’s where Jesus was betrayed by Judas. That is the place where he was marched off. That’s where he was incarcerated.’ It was very moving, through the prism of Catholicism.
So that it wasn’t seen to be just a Jewish trip, we had the opportunity to meet with the Palestinian Prime Minister. Interestingly, while we were waiting at a cafe, we had the opportunity to catch up with some Palestinian youths. We were suited up, and they said—through our interpreter, clearly—’What are you doing here?’ We said, ‘We’re meeting with your Prime Minister.’ They were three well-dressed kids, 15-year-olds with their mobile phones. My first question was: ‘Why aren’t you in school?’ They said: ‘You’re meeting with our Prime Minister. Could you deliver a message from us?’ We said, ‘What’s the message you want us to deliver on your behalf?’ They said: ‘If you’re meeting with our Prime Minister, I’ll give you something, and you deliver it to him. But don’t open it—only the Prime Minister.’ I said, ‘I don’t think the level of security is going to allow that to happen.’ There was a high level of disdain from the youths, and what they planned to do was something untoward—because in the daytime they like to get on a bus and go down to the border, and they go and work construction. I was in awe of the way that they kept themselves—well dressed, well groomed. Palestine is a country that’s looking to advance itself. Israel is a country that needs to be supported.