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Wednesday, 29 April 1987
Page: 2229


Mr MILTON(7.20) —One issue which has caused great concern in Australia was the abduction of Mordachai Vanunu from Rome airport on 30 September 1986 by members of the Israeli Secret Service. Let me make it clear, to avoid any misunderstanding, that my speech tonight is not an anti-Israel speech nor an anti-Jewish speech, but rather it is a speech in defence of human rights based on international law. As a person who visited Belsen concentration camp in 1974 and was profoundly moved by the awesome depiction of mass murder and cruelty of Jewish people which was represented in Belsen and the compelling physical feeling of desolation and melancholy which pervaded the atmosphere of the camp site, it saddens me that the Israeli Government now perpetrates acts which remind one of their nazi oppressors.

In 1979 Israel and South Africa tested a nuclear weapon. It is not know whether or not the test was successful but together South Africa and Israel have continued to develop nuclear weapons technology and Mordachai Vanunu's crime was to divulge information that Israel has now got the capacity to build at least 10, possibly 20, nuclear weapons annually. Mr Vanunu had worked for 10 years in Israel's secret nuclear weapons factory at Dimona in the Negev Desert and supplied information and photographs to the international media which led British and American nuclear scientists to eventually conclude that Israel possessed from 10 to 20 nuclear weapons. On the basis of the information the scientists ranked Israel as the world's sixth nuclear power. This nuclear achievement by Israel has been achieved by collaboration in an active military accord signed in 1976 whereby South Africa received weapons and sophisticated technologies from Israel and in return provided funds for the development of Israeli weapons systems and supplied raw materials such as rare metals and uranium. In the following decade Israel has sold to South Africa missile armed patrol boats, anti-tank weapons, radar installations and a range of anti-insurgency equipment. Ultimately Israel licensed South Africa to build much of this equipment and provided plans, technology and advice to help the South African Government to establish a military electronics industry. With the increase of military and economic links there has been a corresponding increase in the political and cultural relations between Israel and South Africa.

I find it quite inexplicable that Israel should be prepared to cement its paradoxical relationship with South Africa when that relationship is so detrimental to its relationship with the non-aligned nations, particularly the African nations. Israel has always said that it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Indeed, one would expect that it would be suicidal for Israel to use nuclear weapons to defend its territory as one modern high yield nuclear weapon could destroy the total populated area of Israel. It is of course likely that both Israel and South Africa have settled on small tactical nuclear weapons. Tactical nuclear weapons would not destroy Israeli or South African cities which exist so close to their potential targets. For South Africans there will be no future until they are prepared to accept that black Africans in South Africa have the right to be treated as citizens with equal legal, political and social rights to the Asian, coloured and white races in that country. For Israelis there will be no future until they recognise the rights of Palestinians to live in their own homeland in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a separate independent nation.

However, let me return to the abduction of Mordachai Vanunu and his present incarceration in an Israeli prison. Many Israelis themselves are deeply disturbed at the policy of utter secrecy adopted by the Israeli Government in all aspects of the Vanunu affair. The mysterious manner in which he was brought to Israel, his clandestine detention and his arraignment in conditions of complete secrecy are all in direct contradiction to the normal judicial process. Mr Vanunu was one of an impoverished family of 11 children who were raised in the southern Israel city of Beersheba. His brothers and supporters have indicated that he is a highly intelligent, morally troubled and deeply philosophical man whose firsthand encounter with nuclear power and its clandestine military use brought him into direct conflict with Israel's security forces. Such a man deserves sympathy and understanding for his moral attitude and I would ask our Government to prevail on the Israeli authorities to restore the rights of which he has been deprived as a person on remand awaiting trial.