So we stand here and say we will support the State of Israel’s right to self-defence—as we should in this motion—in taking action to respond to these terror acts, but let us know that this should and must include all efforts to eradicate Hamas from Gaza and dismantling the capability of Hamas to conduct terrorist attacks on the people and State of Israel in the future. In the weeks and the months ahead, let our resolve not diminish. Let our eyes not turn away from what we say today, as we continue to support the State of Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and remove that ever-present threat that has stood there each and every day, threatening their citizens as they go about their peaceful lives.
Mr MORRISON (Cook) (12:55): After a week that saw the greatest loss of Jewish lives since the Holocaust, Jews gathered at the Central Synagogue in Bondi Junction for Shabbat services, just as Jews have gathered for Shabbat services for centuries. On this particular evening, though, there was a special poignancy to their gathering, as they came together to console, support and encourage others. As the women lit their candles in hope and we gathered for the Shabbat service, which Jenny and I were pleased to attend along with the current member for Wentworth and the former member for Wentworth Dave Sharma, Rabbi Levi said, ‘Am Yisrael Chai.’ The people of Israel live on. It was a statement of resilience. It was a statement of faith. It was a statement of hope. If there’s one thing I have learnt in my long association with the Jewish community, it is that they are a people of endurance, resilience and hope, even in the most awful circumstances, which they have experienced this past week.
I’m pleased to stand in support of this bipartisan motion and to stand here in support of the people of Israel and the state of Israel. I stand here and condemn the barbaric, violent and unprovoked terrorist attack by Hamas on the people of Israel on 7 October and the murder, the beheading, the rape and the hostage-taking of innocent civilians, including babies, children, women and the elderly. We express our deepest sympathy and deep condolences to members of this place, to people all around our country, to the state of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu and all of his people and to the Jewish community here in Australia through Ambassador Amir Maimon, who I spoke to, as we denounce these terrible acts.
These terrorist acts have been rightly identified as terrorist acts. To speak of this as a war is to somehow risk legitimising the other combatant for which there can be no legitimacy whatsoever. They are terrorists. As Prime Minister I was pleased that we listed in full Hamas as a terrorist organisation as well as Hezbollah and many others, because that is indeed what they are. As we gather in this place and rightly denounce and condemn these acts, I hope it will not fade from our memory quickly or ever, because that is too often the case.
I remember, as the member for Berowra will remember, back in December 2018, the UN General Assembly considered a resolution condemning Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk, and for its use of resources in Gaza to construct military infrastructure, including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas. It specified that further engagement by the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in efforts to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, was also needed. I instructed that we would support that motion in condemning Hamas.
A procedural vote was held before that main vote on the resolution, calling for the main resolution to be decided on a two-thirds majority. It was passed in that chamber, narrowing the odds of the resolution passing successfully. Although 87 voted in favour, including Australia, a majority either voted against or abstained, meaning that the resolution failed under the ruling. Before the vote, the US permanent representative to the UN said that, despite more than 500 General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel at the United Nations, not one had condemned Hamas—not one.
As we stand in this place, appalled, aggrieved and with our hearts breaking, we should not be surprised by this barbarous violence from such a group. They should never have been given the leave pass of legitimacy that they experienced for so long from the international community. They should have always been condemned, and may they forever be condemned. So we stand here and say we will support the State of Israel’s right to self-defence—as we should in this motion—in taking action to respond to these terror acts, but let us know that this should and must include all efforts to eradicate Hamas from Gaza and dismantling the capability of Hamas to conduct terrorist attacks on the people and State of Israel in the future. In the weeks and the months ahead, let our resolve not diminish. Let our eyes not turn away from what we say today, as we continue to support the State of Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and remove that ever-present threat that has stood there each and every day, threatening their citizens as they go about their peaceful lives.
I join the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in saying that we as Australia should call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease its funding, training and arming of terrorist organisations that include Hamas. We cannot look away from the support that Hamas has received from Iran. It is an abomination. They are the funders of this terrible violence. If they approved it, we will not know. Hamas, of its own accord, is capable of engaging in such violent barbarism all of its own making, but its ability to do so could not have occurred without the training, funding and assistance provided by Iran.
As we say in the motion, we must also support the work of humanitarian assistance and the humanitarian corridors to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, to enable safe passage and to prevent innocent civilians being further caught in what will be an ensuing conflict, which I fear will be quite awful.
I particularly commend the consular work being undertaken by DFAT officials and the bravery they’ve shown on so many occasions. I recall the bravery they showed as they went into Wuhan at the outset of the COVID crisis, and here they are again, assisting Australians. I thank Qantas for their work, once again, coming to Australians’ aid.
We should also be looking ahead and working to support other international organisations in dialogue so that, once order is restored to Gaza, there be the transfer of administrative authority over the Gaza Strip to a credible and competent Palestinian led authority. We must acknowledge and continue to encourage and support the progress being made towards peace in the Middle East through the establishment of the Abraham Accords, whose work should not be frustrated or delayed by these actions. Of course, we reaffirm our support for the establishment of a viable and sustainable two-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian territories, behind recognised international borders.
On this day, as we stand in this place, let us be clear. Let us say, with Rabbi Levi and all the people of the Jewish community here in Australia and around the world, ‘Am Yisrael chai.’