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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18681

Mr CADMAN (1:19 PM) —I move:

That this House:

(1) commends the Israeli Cabinet for its decision to take positive steps for the resolution of conflict in the Middle East, including the adoption of the Road Map which is:

Phase 1 (to May 2003): End of terrorism, normalisa-tion of Palestinian life and Pales-tinian political reform; Israeli withdrawal and end of settlement activity; Palestinian elections;

Phase 2 (June-Dec 2003): Creation of an independent Palestinian state; international conference and inter-national monitoring of compliance with roadmap;

Phase 3 (2004-2005): Second international confer-ence; permanent status agreement and end of conflict; agreement on final borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements; Arab states to agree to peace deals with Israel; and

(2) calls on all parties involved in the conflict to emulate this example and move forward to a rapid settlement.

This motion was put down on 26 May this year, and it has been some weeks since it was drafted and submitted to the House. Circumstance have changed in the Middle East and the decision by the Israeli cabinet to take positive steps for resolution by endorsing and adopting the road map has been followed up by the endorsement by the Palestinian National Authority.

Phase 1 of the road map is to end terrorism, to normalise Palestinian life, to institute Palestinian political reform, to have Israel withdrawal from and end settlement activity, and to hold Palestinian elections. The focus in phase 1 of the road map is a reduction in terrorism. That is the most critical and significant first step. In fact, at this point there has been a reduction in terrorism in the Middle East. In Israel, the daily call on terrorism prior to the adoption of the road map was 44 incidents. I understand it is down to 15 per day, so there has been some moderation. Although not a complete wiping out of terrorism, it is a reduction.

Hamas says it will use terrorism to advance its cause. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad says it will also continue to use terrorism. It is a matter of concern for all people that one section of the Palestinian cause has committed itself to continue terrorism rather than accepting that in a process of peace there cannot be a complete settlement for all past events. People must make a commitment to compromise and move ahead.

I do not know what the goal of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad is. Is it the acceptance of a Palestinian state or is it the destruction of Israel? By their activity it appears that they are focused on the destruction of Israel. But Israel will not be destroyed. Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon have both indicated that the continuance of the state of Israel is an accepted outcome. They have also indicated that the establishment of a state of Palestine is also part of the process.

Australia has been positive in its commitment to this process. We have consistently supported efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have an abiding commitment to Israel's right of existence and, at the same time, we support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Australia considers that the road map for peace initiative brokered by the US and its quartet is the best hope for reaching a lasting settlement. We do not underestimate the strong commitment of the United States to securing peace in the Middle East. We also believe that the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime offers an increased opportunity to secure a lasting peace—something which I strongly hold to; I do not know whether members of the Labor Party do.

The Middle East peace process should at this point, according to the road map, be starting phase 2, but it has been delayed. Saddam Hussein's going has offered an opportunity, I believe, to push on. Concrete steps must be taken by both sides. Finger pointing will not resolve this issue. In my opinion, Arafat continues to exert far too much influence over the Palestinian cause. If Abbas were allowed to continue his regime, his goals and his objectives—as I believe he truly reflects the aspirational content of the Palestinian cause—and if Abbas is allowed to continue the course of action that he has laid down, I believe that he and Ariel Sharon will continue to move ahead, not in forcing people to comply with the other side's leaders but in setting down a course of action which will allow the establishment of phase 2, which should be starting right now.

Australia is not a central player in this process, but we have strong views about it and we continue to support the peace initiatives for the road map.

Mr Pyne —I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.