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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18686

Ms JULIE BISHOP (1:39 PM) —I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Mitchell concerning the adoption by the Israeli cabinet of the road map to peace. No-one should question the importance attached to the peace process in the Middle East and its continuing discussion in this parliament. We should all recognise that Australia has a clear stake in the peaceful resolution of Israeli-Palestinian tensions and the enhancement of the security of the state of Israel. This has never been more important than after 11 September 2001 and 12 October 2002, for we have seen with our own eyes that violence born in the Middle East is transmitted across international boundaries and seas—for globalisation carries not only commerce and knowledge, but also malignant politics.

Australia has a long and close relationship with Israel. We were one of the first countries to recognise the state of Israel back in 1949. We have long recognised the right of the Israeli people to live in peace within secure and recognised borders, particularly given the history of security threats, both conventional and unconventional, against that nation. We also share strong political sym-pathies with the Israeli state, given its continuing, lonely role as a liberal democracy in an illiberal, undemocratic region. Thus, our interest is not simply self-interest.

Of course, it is the Palestinian Authority and Israel that have an extraordinary stake in a political solution to the security problems—a fact recognised by the Israeli cabinet in its endorsement of the road map to peace, which was drafted and promoted by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. The creation of an independent Palestinian state is an important part of that process, as detailed in phase 2 of the plan. But a Palestinian state can only be a solution to violence if the two-state solution actually involves two states—that is, if the Palestinians, along with states like Syria and Saudi Arabia, accept that Israel has a right to exist. There can be no place in a peaceful future for groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, whose self-declared agenda is not for a Palestinian state but for `pushing the Jews back into the sea'.

Israel can only do so much. The key to long-term peace lies in Gaza and the West Bank amongst those who have accepted the public mantle of peacemakers. In a sense, they will face many of the same challenges as the Israeli state faced in 1948—that of building on the positive rather than the negative aspects of the struggle for independence; of utilising the spirit of the Haganah, Ben-Gurion and self-defence rather than the terrorism of the Irgun; and of creating a democratic state that respects liberty and delivers prosperity rather than misery to its citizens. If a Palestinian state can follow that lead—if it too can put peace and prosperity first and take real steps to not only rein in but also eradicate the extremists and the suicide bombers—only then has peace a chance.

The appointment of Mahmoud Abbas as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority is a move in the right direction, but the road map requires the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist groups and the terrorist group infrastructure. This is not an Israeli demand; it is in the road map. The road map has given all parties a plan for peace. It is now up to the parties concerned to follow it, and extremists must not be allowed to destroy the prospects for the road map, although history, including recent history, has given us little comfort over the decades.

In the context of international and transnational terrorism, it is certainly true that the principal focus of Palestinian terrorism has turned inward since the early 1990s. To be blunt, groups like the PLO learned that killing foreigners was counterproductive. Unfortunately, some organisations learned even more quickly that killing Israeli civilians—Jewish, Muslim and Christian—could prove lucrative indeed. The killing of foreigners seems to have been effectively contracted out to those acting in the name of a militant Islam that now appropriates the Palestinian cause.

Thus, the pathogen of Middle Eastern violence imperils nations across the West, including Australia. This is not to say that Israel is the cause of this violence or its transmission. History reveals that the principal oppressor of Arabs remains Arab governments, that the most prolific murderers of Muslim children are Islamic soldiers and that the biggest thieves of Arab opportunity are to be found in Arab capitals. Reason tells us that the Arab predicament does not find its origin in Jerusalem, it springs from half a century of butchery, repression and stagnation. The road map is an opportunity that must be embraced by all. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 106A. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. I wonder if it would facilitate the member for Brand if I were to recognise him for a 90-second statement. That would give him additional time.