Questioned what representations Australian officials have made to the Palestinian Authority on the issue of payments to families of convicted terrorists.
I would like to follow on with the issue of advocacy in the Israel and West Bank area. Could you detail what advocacy our officials there have been making to the Palestinian Authority about their payments to convicted terrorists and their families? I am just wondering what advocacy our officials have been making to the Palestinian Authority for them to cease that practice.
Whole interaction with Mr Matthew Neuhaus, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Middle East and Africa Division, DFAT (Senate Estimates: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio).
Senator FAWCETT: I would like to follow on with the issue of advocacy in the Israel and West Bank area. Could you detail what advocacy our officials there have been making to the Palestinian Authority about their payments to convicted terrorists and their families? You may be aware that that was an issue that was expected to be raised by the US in a meeting with the Palestinian Authority in Washington earlier this month. It is to the tune of some hundreds of millions of dollars which is an incentive to young people to commit crimes, including murder, in Israel. I am just wondering what advocacy our officials have been making to the Palestinian Authority for them to cease that practice.
Mr Neuhaus : I am not aware that we have actually engaged on those sorts of issues with the Palestinian Authority. Our relationship is not a close one, if I might say so. It is a very cordial and proper relationship but it is not something that we have engaged closely on.
Senator FAWCETT: If we look at the root cause of the concerns that have been raised by my colleagues around the detention and trial of minors, one also has to look at what is part of the rationale for them to take these actions and, if the authority in the West Bank is paying money to convicted terrorists and their families and, in fact, celebrating attacks against innocent civilians in Israel, then one of the ways to address concerns raised by my colleagues is to also address the things that might provide incentive for those youth to take that action. Could you take it on notice, if you have not already, what plans you will commit to to engage the Palestinian Authority over that?
Ms Adamson : Can I suggest that we check with our embassy overnight on the number of issues that have been raised in this area because I am sure that there have been representations made on some of the issues that have been raised. Let us get back to you in the morning with more detail on that.
Senator FAWCETT: If I could also put on notice for tomorrow’s discussion, because that will also go to ADA, I would be seeking an assurance as to what measures we have put in place to make sure that no Australian taxpayer’s money which is being paid to the Palestinian authority is being used for those payments to convicted terrorists and their families.
Mr Neuhaus : We will be able to address that tomorrow.
Senator FAWCETT: Thank you very much.