As has been the case for more than 70 years, Palestinian people and the very concepts of justice are being sacrificed yet again for political expediency. As it stands, 191 countries don’t have their embassy in Jerusalem. One country has: the United States. There is global consensus that hosting an embassy in Jerusalem legitimises Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. If we move our embassy, let’s also remove any perception that Australia has any kind of independent role or any interest in peace in the Middle East.
Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (19:26): As we get closer to the election, it becomes more and more obvious that the Prime Minister is trying to reinvent himself as a mini-Trump. After his party voted to support a white supremacist motion, he is now floating the idea of moving Australia’s embassy to Jerusalem. This puts him in fine company with the far right of the Senate, with Senators Anning, Leyonhjelm and Bernardi. How deeply hollow, empty and nasty are the politics of the Liberal Party? Let’s be clear: this is a deliberate strategy by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to pander to the extreme right. He is the Steven Bradbury of prime ministers—the last man standing after Turnbull and Dutton publicly beat each other down. He is a man completely devoid of ideas and only understands the politics of fear and division.
As has been the case for more than 70 years, Palestinian people and the very concepts of justice are being sacrificed yet again for political expediency. As it stands, 191 countries don’t have their embassy in Jerusalem. One country has: the United States. There is global consensus that hosting an embassy in Jerusalem legitimises Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. If we move our embassy, let’s also remove any perception that Australia has any kind of independent role or any interest in peace in the Middle East. President Trump’s move has been reported to be part of a strategy to squeeze the Palestinian people to give up their rights. Meanwhile, no pressure is placed on Israel at all. In fact, it is rewarded. This is part of a broader pattern of destroying the Palestinian people. Trump cut off funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which provides education, health care and social services to more than five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Meanwhile, the United States will give $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next 10 years. We saw Julie Bishop, as foreign minister, progressively cut off foreign assistance to Palestine, including to the World Bank’s multidonor trust fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program. We have seen NGO programs that seek to provide food security, livelihoods and humanitarian relief in Gaza unilaterally halted without any evidence of wrongdoing, throwing thousands of Palestinians into economic jeopardy.
If the Prime Minister is so keen to move the embassy to Jerusalem, he should know the reality of this for Palestinian people, and here it is. Ten thousand Palestinians born in Jerusalem have no legal status because their parents hold different ID cards and Israel will not register them. There are 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. Ninety per cent of Jerusalem’s city budget is directed towards Israeli neighbourhoods, while just 10 per cent is directed to Palestinian neighbourhoods, despite it being home to 37 per cent of the population, and they are paying the same taxes. How much more humiliation are the Palestinian people meant to take? How can they compromise any further? What more can they do? The Palestinian people have been resisting for 70 years, and they will continue to resist until they get a state of their own, as they are owed under international law.
Scott Morrison has just a few more months left in the job until we turf him out. Who knows how many other communities he will throw under the bus in his pursuit of retaining power. This week, it’s the do-anything approach to winning the seat of Wentworth. Next week, it will be another political priority that takes his fancy. But it will never be about principle or good policy, will it? With this mini wannabe Trump in charge, we can only expect more extreme, more racist, more homophobic and more transphobic signalling from this government as they get more and more desperate. It isn’t going to be pretty, but there is light at the end of the tunnel because we are going to kick this mob out.