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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18687

Mr BEAZLEY (1:45 PM) —I very much regret that I did not have the opportunity to speak for five minutes on the previous motion on the Middle East road map to peace. It would have been five minutes of words of praise for the very good statement made by the leader of the Labor Party and by the foreign affairs spokesman, who introduced a sense of balance and gravitas into the discussion that we have just had. I had the opportunity to visit Israel in the course of the war with Iraq, and there are four points that struck me during that visit. The first was that Israel's attitude to the war was that no great favours had been done it—that they had a cordial view of the outcome but they were not interested in seeing themselves pressured as a result of that outcome. The second was that they had very great faith in Abu Mazen and Mohammed Dahlan in the leadership positions in the Palestinian Authority, provided they had the capacity to operate effectively—and they felt there was some doubt about that.

The third was that, on the left of Israeli politics, there was great pessimism about a successful outcome. They felt that they had been badly burned by Arafat in the course of the negotiations led by former Labour Prime Minister Barak. Great amounts had been offered and nothing had been forthcoming from the Palestinians, and on the left of Israeli politics the view was that the ball was very much in the Palestinian court. Finally, there was a determination for an outcome. Ariel Sharon attacked his position, very much to a successful conclusion. In that deep hope for an outcome and in the profound conviction now amongst the vast majority of the Israeli people that there has to be a two-state solution, there is an opportunity, if the Palestinian Authority is an effective interlocutor, to get that outcome.