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Call to recognise the State of Palestine, speech, Dec 2, 2014

In moving this motion, I want to first acknowledge that in 1977 the United Nations declared 29 November the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I also want to acknowledge that 2014 has been declared as the United Nations Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.I want to remind the House that it has been 67 years since the partition of Palestine and the occupation, which continues until today—an occupation that is devastating, demoralising and damaging for all involved. The time has now come for this to end. Australia, and indeed this parliament, must now recognise the state of Palestine. Australia must vote yes at the UN for Palestinian Statehood. Fifty six per cent of Australians are in favour of this and 135 countries have already done so.In his message for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed that:We have passed through another sombre, sad and sorry year for Palestinians, Israelis and all who seek peace. Over the course of 50 brutal days this summer, the world witnessed a ruthless war in Gaza — the third such conflict in six years.

 

He goes on to remind us:An end of the conflict will only come through a negotiated and just political solution, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions.He says further:The Israeli and Palestinian people face a shared fate on shared land. There is no erasing the other. Yet I fear deeply that with each passing day the people of the region are losing any sense of connection — any sense of empathy — any sense of mutual understanding of our common humanity and common future.He ends by calling on all parties, on this International Day of Solidarity:… to step back from the brink. The mindless cycle of destruction must end. The virtuous circle of peace must begin.

In reiterating and echoing the UN Secretary-General's statements and sentiments, I want to stress that while the Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, marred in injustice, stained by oppression and steeped in despair, the politics of violence will always prevail.

Violence will beget violence and radicalisation, with more intifadas, suicide bombings and rockets rendering peace in the Middle East an ever-dwindling prospect. While this conflict continues to be trapped within the walls that enclave and entrap the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, its lasting, peaceful and just solution is just as trapped. While roadmaps to peace are blocked by intransigence and invasive unlawful settlements, there will be no peace not just for the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Middle East, the Arab and Muslim world and the Jewish diaspora but also for the rest of us in the world. Such is the passion, fury and the desperation that this conflict evokes, that even here in Australia, it has lent itself as a cause d'armes for misplaced and misunderstood radicalisation.

In 2011 I led a Parliamentary Friends of Palestine delegation to the region. We met with Dr Yossi Beilin, a leading Israeli political figure, who played an active role in the peace process during the time of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He indicated to us then that the progressive voices for peace in Israel were disappearing. Today it appears they have all but disappeared. As a consequence, the politics of desperation, cynicism and fear have garnered a political class that is hard, intransigent and unimaginative. In Israel today a dangerous, conservative sentiment prevails that is encapsulated by a foreign minister who will never accept a Palestinian state, a housing minister who intends to rebuild a temple on the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli parliamentarians who join settlers praying in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and a Prime Minister that is leading his country and his people on a path where there are no real or genuine prospects for peace.

Last month, former Israeli President and Nobel Laureate, Shimon Peres, speaking on the 19th anniversary of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination, criticised Prime Minister Netanyahu's government for failing to make peace and declared: 'Those who have renounced making peace are not patriots.' He bemoaned: 'It's a shame that the only peace initiative was an Arab initiative.' Shimon Peres wondered, 'Where is the Israeli peace initiative?' and he warned that 'time is against us'.

On this day we need to go beyond simply urging both sides to come to the peace table. We need to demand, for the sake of peace and stability in the region and indeed the world, that all sides sit down and bring closure to this issue based on justice and international law. Finally on this day we need to acknowledge and understand that the prospects for a two-state solution are increasingly dissipating and we are left with very few options. We are potentially embarking on a road map that leads to nowhere.

The actual motion read as folows:That this House:(1) notes that as of 1977, the United Nations made 29 November the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People;(2) recognises 2014 as the United Nations International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (IYSPP); and (3) acknowledges the objective of the IYSPP was to promote solidarity with the Palestinian people as a central theme, contributing to international awareness of:(a) core themes regarding the Question of Palestine, as prioritised by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People;(b) obstacles to the ongoing peace process, particularly those requiring urgent action such as settlements, Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, and;(c) mobilisation of global action towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Question of Palestine in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.