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Tuesday, 26 May 1987
Page: 3367


Mr MILTON(10.40) —I would like to refer tonight to the adjournment speech made by the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Coleman), on 30 April 1987, in which he criticised my comments in an adjournment speech of the day before in relation to the abduction of Mr Mordachai Vanunu by Israeli authorities. It seems to me that the honourable member missed the whole point of my speech. I do not deny that Israel is surrounded by enemies, but so far as the Palestinian people are concerned the enmity is the result of the inhumane policies which the Israeli Government is perpetrating against Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. I also acknowledge that the trial is now proceeding at long last. I do not accept that the background conditions for Israel are analagous to those which existed when Australia was at war with Japan way back in the 1940s. It is rather more analagous to Australia abducting an Australian from Rome Airport because he had revealed details of the Maralinga atom bomb test site and the effect on Aboriginal people and subjecting him to secret trial proceedings.

It is interesting to note that the honourable member for Wentworth made no reference to my comments about Israel's collaboration with South Africa on the provision of war weapons and the sharing of nuclear weapons information. South Africa's evil racist policies are condemned world wide, and it does nothing for Israel's international image that she is prepared to collaborate so closely in military preparedness with a country which uses the colour of a person's skin as a reason for oppression and exploitation of the majority of the South African population.

Again these matters do not go to the heart of the issue we are discussing tonight, and that is the question of the civil rights of Mordachai Vanunu. It is an undeniable fact that Mr Vanunu was abducted from Rome Airport and taken to Israel on 30 September 1986. Let me make it clear, he was not extradited but kidnapped, terrorist fashion. His many supporters, both here and in Israel, have indicated their anger and concern, and I quote from one letter I have received in relation to the abduction as follows:

This in itself makes his imprisonment in Israel and all judicial proceedings against him subsequent to his abduction, absolutely illegal by international law and a very serious case of basic human rights denial. Israel's Government chose to ignore the extradition treaties, to which it is a signatory, and now has the audacity to claim, in effect, extra territorial jurisdiction over Mordechai Vanunu.

As for the unfairness of the trial, leaving aside for a moment the illegality of the proceedings, there are at least 3 reasons why such a trial cannot be fair. Firstly, the lynch campaign, orchestrated from the top, against Mordechai Vanunu ever since the disclosure of his imprisonment in Israel (something denied for almost 6 weeks by Israel's Government) has brought about his `conviction' by the print and electronic media in Israel several times over. Secondly, the trumped up charges brought against him, and in particular the charges of alleged `espionage' cannot be seen other than an attempt to discredit him and the cause of nuclear disarmament in the eyes of the public in Israel. Thirdly, the main guarantee for a fair trial is in its exposure to public scrutiny. In Mr Vanunu's case, his request for an open trial was rejected by the court, and as a result nobody could ever know if it has been a kangaroo court or a fair trial.

The secrecy of the trial has no justification whatsoever, since it is clear for all to see that if he had known any secrets they have all been published by the world's news media. Furthermore long before Mr Vanunu's revelations the Press was full of rumours and news items relating to Israel's nuclear bombs production and stockpile.

I have quoted from the letter virtually in full because it conveys the points so well. I would also like to point out to honourable members that Amnesty International has asked Israeli authorities for assurances that the trial will be fair, and has stated intentions of sending a delegate to observe all or part of the trial. Since Mordachai Vanunu is facing charges which could carry the death penalty, Amnesty International has urged the Israeli Attorney-General, as prosecuting authority, to not seek that penalty. If the Israeli system of justice is as fair as the honourable member for Wentworth maintains, why is Amnesty International so concerned?

Finally I would like to quote from an extract of the March/April issue No. 13 of Politica, which is an Israeli political journal. The extract has been translated for me and is headed Israel's Nuclear Policy: The Intolerable Poverty Of The Discussion; and it makes very clear that Mr Vanunu's so-called crime is that he revealed facts which were completely unknown to the general public in Israel. The quotation I will make is from an article by Zeer Shif, a military correspondent of ``Ha'aretz'' about nuclear weapons. He has written:

`. . . This is not a public debate of substance, only its beginning, the buds of the debate. To this day the subject has not reached a serious debate, despite its concern with the essence of our existence, and its far reaching implications to security and internationally. Censorial bans and psychological repression which is the likely result of the dread which is associated with nuclear weaponry, has left the subject in the darkness of the security labyrinth'.

I submit to honourable members that the honourable member for Wentworth is not correct in describing Mr Mordachai Vanunu as an unhappy man.


Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.