We recognise and continue to support our great friend Israel as the unique beacon of liberal democracy in the Middle East. The strength of our relationship with Israel originates from our shared commitments to democracy, liberty, the rule of law and a pluralist society. In all discussions of international conflict, and particularly the Israel-Palestine dispute, we must always follow our moral compass and recognise our support for the state of Israel, its right to defend itself and its right to exist.
Full motion and speech
Mr TIM WILSON (Goldstein) (18:01): I move:
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) Israel is a legitimate democratic state and ally of Australia;
(b) Australia remains committed to Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and continues to support a peaceful two-state resolution for the Israeli-Palestinian issue;
(c) Australia and Israel have a unique relationship supported by a commitment to the rights and liberty of their citizenry, the rule of law and a pluralist society underpinned by mutual respect;
(d) there is a concerning collapse of the traditional support among Australia’s political parties for the path to a peaceful agreement between the State of Israel and the Palestinians for a two-state solution; and
(e) the culture within the Australian Labor Party (ALP) regarding foreign policy is deteriorating, aided by high profile party figures who perpetrate enduring myths about the causes of instability in the Middle East; and
(2) calls on the ALP to:
(a) reject the empty symbolism within the politically correct interpretation of issues in the Middle East; and
(b) condemn senior figures within it who have called for Australia, independent of any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, to formally recognise a Palestinian state.
I would like to begin this discussion by saying that I wish this motion never needed to be moved. I wish it were not the case, but the tragedy of it is that once upon a time a relatively bipartisan consensus sat between the two major parties about the importance of Israel, our ally and friend, and that we should steadfastly support not only our shared commitment and values with one of the few democracies in the Middle East but also Israel as it seeks to advance our values and take them to the rest of the world. Tragically today, you cannot say that is the case anymore.
There are increasingly large sections within the Australian Labor Party that do not share the same commitment to Israel that exists on this side of the chamber. Of course, Australia’s foreign policy should always stem from our shared values. We always welcome the opportunity when the Australian Labor Party and other political parties which represent—shall we call them?—the progressive left of politics stand up and defend our values and our way of life. Unfortunately, that is often missing, but we do like it when it does occur.
We recognise and continue to support our great friend Israel as the unique beacon of liberal democracy in the Middle East. The strength of our relationship with Israel originates from our shared commitments to democracy, liberty, the rule of law and a pluralist society. In all discussions of international conflict, and particularly the Israel-Palestine dispute, we must always follow our moral compass and recognise our support for the state of Israel, its right to defend itself and its right to exist. Having been to Israel on a couple of occasions—including one visit being teargassed by the IDF in the middle of a Bethlehem refugee camp—I recognise that some of the debates are extremely complex. I am not trying to say that there is a one-size-fits-all solution to all issues relating to Israel, but I do think it has to come from a basic understanding of the proposition that we support its right to exist and support its purpose and sense of nationhood, and that is often lacking in so much of the contemporary debate.
A disturbing culture and an empty symbolism of virtue signalling have now developed within the Australian Labor Party. Many senior Labor Party figures now find a common cause and practice to side against our friend in favour of her enemies and those who seek to tear down the country and delegitimise its right to exist. We have people like Kevin Rudd, Bob Carr and Gareth Evans, and particularly the latter two, who have recently called for Australia to recognise a Palestinian state without proper recognition of the violence that has been committed against the state of Israel. It was an extraordinary attention-seeking move to hijack the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And if the deteriorating foreign policy culture of the Australian Labor Party was not enough, the factual inaccuracies used to substantiate their claims were truly dumbfounding.
Mr Rudd’s commentary chose to ignore the numerous occasions the Palestinian leadership has thwarted peace offers and he laid blame firmly at Mr Netanyahu’s feet. Mr Rudd has continually changed his tune, depending on which group he speaks to—with different and opposing views, depending on whether he is speaking to a Jewish audience or to some other organisation where he seeks to enjoy applause and support. Of course, we also have the continual contributions of Bob Carr, the former foreign minister, who regularly waxes lyrical at criticism of the state of Israel as part of his ongoing public commentary. Let’s get the facts straight. It is not true to say Israel will not negotiate and will not compromise. Former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered virtually everything that could be offered in an independent state on three occasions. Palestinian leaders rejected each and every attempt.
For the sake of Israeli and Palestinian families, a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue must not be undermined. Any peace agreement in the Middle East will rely on a change in political culture among Palestinians. I am not suggesting that Israel have acted without fault. But considering they face an IS terror campaign to their south, Hamas at the Gaza border and both IS and al-Qaeda affiliates to the north, Israel are constantly being undermined from different sides. You would think they could turn to a country like Australia and see a bipartisan consensus supporting their right to exist, supporting them in their pursuit of nationhood, not a situation where the parliamentary leadership on the Labor side continues to resist supporting the position of our dear and good friend. The lack of morality and principle on display is truly deplorable. Any astute scholar of international relations knows that unilateral proposals such as those suggested are bound to fail if one party is vehemently against them. I encourage members to support the motion.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Wicks ): Is there a seconder for this motion?
Mr Hastie: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.