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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1534


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (21:50): Much has been made of the arrest of the Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi for slapping an Israeli soldier. Those promoting her cause would have us believe that Ms Tamimi is the poor victim of Israeli brutality, motivated by anger at the injuring of her cousin by Israeli troops into slapping a soldier trespassing on her land.

The reality is very different. For the last five years Ahed Tamimi, and, to a lesser extent, her siblings, have become notorious for their constant efforts to provoke Israeli soldiers, to the extent that Ahed Tamimi, with her curly blonde hair, has become known as 'Shirley Temper'. The typical and often repeated modus operandi is for a Tamimi child to approach Israeli soldiers and slap, hit, kick, spit at and insult them, while the Tamimi family adults wait with camera in hand for the provoked soldiers to retaliate, so they can then show the world the so-called Israeli aggression against children.

These exploits have earned Ahed and her family a significant social media following, especially among Palestinians. Ahed's mother, Nariman Tamimi, was filming the incident involving the soldiers and immediately following it asked Ahed what sort of message she wanted to convey to viewers. She was filmed saying:

I hope that everyone will take part in the demonstrations as this is the only means to achieve the result. Our strength is in our stones, and I hope that the world will unite to liberate Palestine, because Trump made his declaration and—

the Americans—

need to take responsibility for any response that comes from us. Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine.

I repeat, this poster girl for Palestinian innocence called for stabbing attacks, suicide bombings and the throwing of rocks.

Sadly, it would appear likely that Ahed has been raised to seek and glorify violence. In fact, her parents, Bassem and Nariman, are also well-known for their anti-Semitic social media posts glorifying terror attacks and calling for the end of Israel. Other members of the family are convicted terrorists, including the mastermind of the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in 2001, which killed 15 people including Malki Roth, who was then the same age as Ahed is now and whose parents were Australian.

Those professing such concern for Ahed's welfare should perhaps question whether her upbringing is akin to child abuse or to the use of child soldiers. At the very least, she is being exploited. In other circumstances, they would, rightly, be quick to condemn this. Instead, they are more likely to condemn Israel for supposed transgressions of Palestine rights, such as its arrest and detention of children, its system of military law in the West Bank and its check points and security barriers.

Let's look at what's behind those. Yes, Israel arrests and detains Palestinian children. Most of those arrested are in their mid to late teens and are arrested for acts such as throwing rocks at cars or security forces, which can be lethal, and even more serious attacks such as stabbings and bombings. If children in Australia were throwing rocks at passing cars or at police, we would want them arrested and detained, too. Ahed herself was arrested not just for slapping a soldier but also for throwing rocks and for the incitement mentioned earlier.

Yes, Israel has a separate system of military law for the West Bank. This is not out of a desire to discriminate against Palestinians but out of legal necessity. If Israel were to apply its own civil legal system to the West Bank, that would amount to annexation and would no doubt be roundly condemned.

Yes, Israel carries out arrests, including of minors, in night-time raids. It does so because experience has shown this is far safer for both the Israeli forces and the local Palestinians than going in during the day, when Palestinians riot and attack the Israelis, and the Israelis are forced to defend themselves, leading to casualties on both sides.

Yes, Israel has a security barrier to separate Palestinians from Israelis and has checkpoints, but these were built out of necessity. In the intifada launched in 2000 in the wake of Yasser Arafat's refusal to accept the Camp David peace offer, more than 1,000 Israelis were killed, and thousands more were seriously injured by Palestinian terrorism, including many notorious suicide bombings. The intifada was finally defeated by those measures. The checkpoints, other than those at the security barrier, are often unguarded, depending on the security situation at the time, and the security barrier can ultimately be relocated or removed, depending on the nature of any peace settlement.

One aspect of Palestinian violence that is not widely understood is the role of Palestinian incitement. Palestinian children like Ahed Tamimi are subjected to nonstop incitement and glorification of terror from the Palestinian National Authority, Israel's supposed peace partner. They get it in their schools, on TV, on the radio and in the mosques—constant messages that Israel is illegitimate and that the Jews stole their land. Israelis do commit crimes against Palestinians, including occasional terror attacks. But, when this happens, the perpetrators are pursued and arrested, and the attacks are condemned from the Prime Minister down. By contrast, the Palestinian authority name streets, public squares, community facilities and even children's soccer tournaments after Palestinian terrorists who have killed Israelis. Perhaps even more invidiously, Palestinian terrorists who are captured by Israel are paid generous lifetime pensions, far higher than the average wage, by the Palestinian authority—and, if they are killed in the attack, the pension goes to their family. The more serious the attack is, the higher the pension. The Palestinians apparently need billions of dollars of international aid each year, yet the Palestinian authority made US$347 million worth of such payments for terror in 2017 and has budgeted US$403 million for 2018.

There are those who would say that all of this results from Israel's occupation of the West Bank, so let's consider why Israel is there. Israel took control of the West Bank from Jordan in 1967 in the course of a defensive war, the Six-Day War. It took the West Bank and, also, East Jerusalem from Jordan, following Jordanian attacks on Israeli positions. When Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, Jews were expelled, were barred from visiting the holy sites, and all synagogues were destroyed. By contrast, Israel allows all faiths control of and access to their holy sites in Jerusalem.

Immediately after the war, Israel offered to return land captured, in exchange for peace, but the meeting of the Arab League in Khartoum in August and September 1967 responded with the infamous three noes: no negotiation, no recognition and no peace. Despite this, in 1979, Israel agreed to return Sinai—also captured in 1967, but from Egypt—to Egypt, uprooting all Israeli settlements there, and has had a peace, albeit often cool, with Egypt ever since. In 2000, at Camp David, under the auspices of the Oslo accords, Israel offered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a state consisting of all of Gaza, most of the West Bank, a shared capital in Jerusalem and a settlement package for the Palestinian refugees. Arafat refused—despite being urged by many, including Saudi Arabia, to take the deal—and instead launched the intifada. An improved offer in early 2001 at Taba met the same response.

In 2005, Israel's Sharon government, searching for another way to achieve peace, withdrew completely from Gaza, leaving behind greenhouses and other agricultural infrastructure. The hope was that the Palestinians there would establish a peaceful, prosperous society living in harmony with Israel, and this would provide the impetus for further peace moves. The reality was, sadly, very different. The greenhouses were immediately destroyed, and rockets soon began flying over the border, aimed at Israeli communities. In 2007, Hamas staged a coup and took over control of Gaza. Since then, there have been in excess of 10,000 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza; terror tunnels have been constructed under the Israeli border, using vast amounts of international aid intended for Gaza civilians; and the result has been three wars.

In 2008, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made an even more generous offer than those previously tendered. Under that peace plan offer, the Palestinian state would have all of Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, with land from inside Israel in compensation for the rest. There was to be a land bridge between the West Bank and Gaza; a shared capital in Jerusalem, with Palestinian control over Muslim holy sites; a limited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel; and compensation for all other Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants. As Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas recently admitted, he rejected the offer out of hand—again, without so much as a counteroffer.

It appears that the sticking point is that any agreement would require the Palestinians to genuinely accept Israel's right to exist in peace and that there could be no further claims, including the so-called return of the refugees and their millions of descendants. This influx of in excess of five million Palestinians would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state and is therefore completely incompatible with the two-state peace the Palestinians profess to be seeking.

It is also worth noting that this demand for the return of not only the original refugees but their descendants—treating the descendants as refugees too—is a demand made only for Palestinians and is not repeated for any of the world's many refugee populations. Since the election of the Netanyahu government in 2008, Israeli measures to encourage peace talks have included an unprecedented 10-month moratorium on building in settlements, and the release of Palestinian prisoners. As you can see, the matter is not as simple as it appears. (Time expired)