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Statement by the Hon. A.S. Peacock, Minister for Foreign Affairs

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The Liberal Party of Australia FEDERAL SECRETARIAT


In recent days the Labor Party has attempted to distort the statements made by Mr. Fraser and myself in our attitudes towards the total Middle East situation. In order to clarify our position for Australian citizens whose ethnic ' origins lie in the Middle East let me state once again the

following position:

Firstly, we firmly uphold the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace. We believe that it is imperative that secure and permangit boundaries be established between Israel and the neighbour­ ing Arab States. Any attempts to hinder a peaceful solution through terrorist activities by any organisation will continue to be condemned by a Liberal National Country.Party Government.

However, our Government recognises with equal sincerity the right of the Palestinian people to have a permanent and lasing homeland and will give the strongest support to any peaceful initiatives by the United Nations, the United States or any other country that would result in a settlement.

We regret that some sections of the PLO hold strongly to a philosophy directed towards the destruction of Israel and look forward to a time when the more moderate elements within this organisation prevail in the international forum. The Coalition Government is particularly conscious of the internal suffering ·

and tragic events which have overcome democracy in Lebanon. We hope that the situation in Lebanon which has come partly from extremist influences and partly as a result of a great strain placed upon that country by the influx and temporary settlement of so many Palestinian refugees will be resolved as soon as possible. The Coalition recognised the great contribution made to the development of Australia by Lebanese migrants and descendants over the last 125 years. The Government is being constantly appraised of the situation in Lebanon and stands ready to assist in any humane action if such be requested.

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