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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11269

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:42): From my earliest days in this House I have been a passionate supporter of the state of Israel and an advocate for a real and lasting peace in the Middle East. That peace, of course, must be built on the principle of a negotiated two-state solution that delivers peace and security. These are the principles for any genuine resolution to the Middle East conflict, and those principles are now under threat by the unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in the United Nations.

The central theme of the Middle East conflict has been the consistent Arab refusal to accept the natural Jewish right to national self-determination in the ancestral homeland of the Jews. There is no moral equivalency to be found here. In 1937, in 1947, in 1967 and a decade ago, the Palestinian Arabs rejected diplomatic proposals that would have granted them political independence. Why? Essentially because those proposals required territorial compromise and the acceptance of Jewish statehood. Time after time, unfortunately, too many Palestinian Arabs have shown that they despise Jewish political self-determination more than they love their own national independence. That has proved to be a tragic recipe for 90 years of tears, blood and destruction. Speaking at the UN overnight President Barack Obama expressed America's opposition to the unilateral bid for Palestinian statehood. He said:

Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.

He is right. Unfortunately, there has been no similar moral clarity from our government on this vital diplomatic issue. When asked about Australia's voting intentions in the UN the foreign minister has hedged and hemmed. The government's stance on the question has unfortunately been a profile in political vacillation and cowardice. We would do well to recall that the ruling jihadist Hamas regime in Gaza is dedicated not only to Israel's destruction but to the murder of Jews across the planet. With such genocidal fanaticism, peace is impossible. Israel will not and cannot agree to the creation of borders to placate the moral cowardice of a world grown tired of the conflict—and nor should it. As Greg Sheridan wrote in today's Australian:

Absent real peace, the 1967 borders put Palestinian rockets within a few short kilometres of Tel Aviv airport. The security dangers are immense, and obvious. All the demands are made of Israel and none, in effect, of the Palestinians.

The key to a durable Middle East peace is good-faith negotiations between the parties. Australia should vote no on this dangerous, ill-advised unilateral Palestinian initiative.