But we must also always remind ourselves of the foundations of this conflict. It comes as a result of the failure of the Palestinian cause to respect a two-state solution and a pathway that recognises the right of the Jewish people in Israel as a foundational pillar for peace in the region.
Mr TIM WILSON (Goldstein) (10:36): I’m happy to rise to speak on this motion because it is important for members in this place to speak on important issues of foreign affairs that obviously translate to domestic communities within Australia. Being a representative of the third largest Jewish community in Australia, this topic is of particular importance to me. We need to acknowledge the loss of life on both sides of this recent conflict. There have been Palestinian lives lost. There have been Israeli lives lost. It’s particularly sad when it comes to the context of children.
But we must also always remind ourselves of the foundations of this conflict. It comes as a result of the failure of the Palestinian cause to respect a two-state solution and a pathway that recognises the right of the Jewish people in Israel as a foundational pillar for peace in the region. If that is not acknowledged and that is not accepted, it is difficult to find a scenario where people can live side by side, respecting their mutual right to self-determination, to their land, to their peace, to their security and to determine their own destiny into the future. That is the basis on which you will have a sustainable and durable peace that affects everybody and benefits everybody.
That has been the position of the Australian government and continues to be the position of the Australian government, because it’s a clear understanding of the foundation on which the security and the peace of all people is based. Having been to Israel and the Palestinian territories myself, as other members have done over many years, we have seen firsthand the direct consequences of what happens when people are divided about a sense of shared future and mutual respect. We all want a scenario where there is peace and stability, because it benefits everybody and removes the risks of violence against people who should otherwise be safe and secure.
We have all been haunted by the images, particularly of rockets that have gone between Israel and Gaza, but we also know the origins of those rockets. The rockets that have come out of Gaza have been intercepted by the Iron Dome to protect the people of Israel and stop the loss of human life. We should be thankful that such security arrangements exist to protect people regardless of their ethnicity and regardless of their location and to ensure that people who seek peace and security in the region are not affected by rockets and do not experience the harsh consequences. Sadly, as the member moved in the motion, there have been tragic deaths on both sides of the conflict. That’s a direct consequence of the attempted aggression and of Israel’s right to defend itself.
Ultimately, we face choices in Australia as a country and as a middle power about how we can work to aid and assist peace and stability in the region. The basis on which we do that now, and we will continue to do so, is working through multilateral institutions with other like-minded countries that want peace and stability in the region. I particularly congratulate the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Payne who have been unequivocal through the various fora—particularly the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly—and with both Israeli and Palestinian representatives about the need to take immediate steps to halt the violence, exercise restraint and commence peace discussions. These continue to be reiterated as required, as this conflict has gone on—there is a current ceasefire, but, of course, conflict may arise again—because the position of the Australian government is one that is anchored on mutual respect and responsibility and peace and security.
More critically, the foundation of the Australian policy position is the right of the Israeli people to their homelands as much as a recognition of the safety and security and the rights of the Palestinian people. We’ve had a number of different elections and different attitudes within Israel and, of course, amongst the Palestinian people. But we all know the foundation has to be anchored in the rights of the Israeli people and the respect by the Palestinians to the Israeli people in the same way that it should be reciprocated. It’s that absence and that continued denial of the right of the people of Israel to their homeland that leads and justifies and is inflamed by those who want to take advantage and lead to conflict for their own interests and at the expense of, and with the waste of, human life, giving rise to tragedy.