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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18685

Mr RUDD (1:34 PM) —It saddens us when we are debating a motion as serious as that advanced by the member for Mitchell that it could be so trivialised in the manner reflected in the remarks just delivered by the member for Sturt—seeking first and foremost to obtain partisan advantage out of a matter which goes to such fundamental questions as the security of the state of Israel and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. I think that to treat these matters as some sort of post-pubescent, undergraduate exercise in university politics is a travesty given the gravitas of these questions which confront those in Ramallah and Jerusalem today—grave questions of life and death, war and peace.

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to examine first hand the implementation of the road map to peace. The current peace process grows out of the tragic failure of Camp David II, the ensuing horror of a 32-month intifada and the quadrilateral diplomatic process which subsequently took place involving the United States, the European Union and others. The current peace process is the product of the personal intervention of President Bush, whose efforts should be supported by all people of goodwill. The fact that this process continues despite the outbreak of terrorist acts in the last week has been dependent on the support of the government of Israel as well as the participation of Prime Minister Abou Mazen of the Palestinian Authority. A fundamental element in the entire peace process is terrorism—murderous behaviour by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, by those who call themselves the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and by Hezbollah, whose actions can only be deemed definitionally as intolerable in any civilised society.

As Labor's year 2000 policy platform states unequivocally, `Labor condemns all acts of terrorism, whatever the motivation and whoever the perpetrators ...'

Another element in the peace process is the cessation of settlement activity, where, as the government of the United States and many within Israeli politics itself have agreed, greater action is needed. A further ele-ment in phase 1 of the process is the reform of the Palestinian Authority. Both in Jerusalem and Ramallah, I was impressed by the number of financial and administrative reforms described to me which were currently being implemented by Prime Minister Abu Mazen and his finance minister—although there is still a long way to go.

Of course, there are many other elements to the peace process. Some are fully articulated in the formal documents of the road map, others are not. These include the question of provisional boundaries, the deeply divisive question of the security wall and the question of Palestinian prisoners. The compass of Labor policy in this entire process is entrenched in Labor's policy platform of the year 2000. It states clearly:

Labor continues to support the right of Israel to exist in peace and security within secure and recognised borders. At the same time Labor supports the right of self determination for the Palestinian people, including their right to their own independent state.

Labor welcomes the Israeli Government's recognition of the Palestinian people's right to self determination. Labor acknowledges that the implementation of Palestinian self determination and the ultimate shape of the Palestinian entity is subject to the permanent status negotiations.

The peace process will be exceptionally difficult, as all who are close to it recognise. Both in Jerusalem and Ramallah, I encountered much pessimism. This is understandable, given the events of the last 55 years. But the road map is the only show in town. It is the only plan on the table. Therefore, all people of goodwill must support it. In Israel, I also visited Yad Vashem. It reminds us in large part of the reasons which underpin the international community's resolve through the United Nations after World War II to create the state of Israel. Let us reflect on it and its lasting legacy to us today in the efforts of those seeking to bring about a permanent peace settlement to this troubled region, and let us support it with every fibre of our human and diplomatic being.