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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 310


Mr SUKKAR (Deakin) (12:00): On indulgence,. I rise to speak in relation to the condolence motion on the death of Mr Ariel Sharon. We heard yesterday from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who had the honour of representing the Australian government at a memorial service for Mr Sharon at the Knesset on 13 January and at his burial service at the Sharon family farm in Negev. The foreign minister reflected on Mr Sharon's deep commitment to safeguarding Israel's security and prosperity. This lifelong dedication to the state of Israel deserves recognition and will forever be remembered, not only by the people of Israel but also by the people of Australia who counted Mr Sharon as a friend.

Mr Sharon fought for the survival of the state of Israel as a soldier in Israel's major wars, including the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, as a brigadier general in the 1967 Six-Day War, and as a commander in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He distinguished himself on the battlefield, gaining recognition as one of the country's most skilled and courageous commanders, before turning to politics to continue his service to the Israeli people.

Mr Sharon was as courageous off the field as he had been on it, as he rose through the ranks to become the prime minister. A strong-willed figure, he made a significant mark on the global political landscape. At times he attracted controversy, but inevitably he commanded respect from friends and foes alike for his determination and commitment to the state of Israel. I salute this commitment.

Towards the end of his service as prime minister, Mr Sharon's determination to secure Israel's future saw him bravely shift towards a two-state solution, recognising this as the only pathway to realising that outcome. The work to realise this vision endures today as countries, including Australia, support Israel's right to live in peace within internationally recognised borders and the resumption of final status negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Australia values its longstanding relationship with Israel, which is based on shared values, common interests and strong political, economic, cultural and social ties. This is a relationship that was fostered during Mr Sharon's prime ministership and that continues to flourish under the Australian government today.

We recognise that the loss of Mr Sharon is deeply felt by the Israeli people, and we extend our sympathies to his family and to the nation as they mourn his passing.