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Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Page: 809

Mr SIMPKINS (4:25 PM) —I rise to speak today on the circumstances in the Middle East, in particular the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip. Based on reports by much of the media, it would seem that the conflict is between the murderous Israelis and the peace-loving Palestinians led by the moderate and progressive Hamas leadership. If this were not such a serious matter, involving the lives of children, I would consider the majority of the media reporting an absolute joke. I find it short on historical perspectives and completely devoid of a contemporary context.

Hamas is an organisation committed to the destruction of Israel, but it does not have the capacity to achieve it—not that they would not do it if they could. Yet, because Iran is unable to provide Hamas with the weapons in the quantities that Hamas desires, the leadership has to adopt other means to attack Israel. It is good that the security fence has been able to restrict the suicide bombers that terrorised Israel for years. The contemporary context, therefore, is that Hamas and previous controlling factions have been militarising and indoctrinating children to a hatred of Israel that helps Hamas recruit extremists and allows them to fire some 10,000 rockets in eight years from civilian areas.

The number of rockets fired since the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza has increased. It is therefore appropriate to clearly state my opinion of Hamas: pathetic men who recruit children to do their dirty work, cowards who for years have fired their rockets at Israeli citizens from civilian areas in the hope that Israel will fire back and unintentionally inflict civilian casualties that will then be exploited as a propaganda coup by Hamas. Hamas are the first ones to promote the photos of Palestinian children killed and injured as the result of Israeli reprisals, yet at these times they do not promote the photos of very young children holding real and toy weapons or marching together in the ranks and files of what appear to be military units of 10-year-olds. I would also say that one of the main leaders of Hamas promotes their cause from the safety of Damascus, in the true style of cowardice and double standards, exposing his people to great risk from a safe location. The two-state solution is the only way ahead, but in the way is the fundamental hatred and opposition to Israel. The indoctrination of Palestinian children with the support of their parents is clear evidence of how far the peace process has to go.

It is my position that Israel has a right to self-defence against Hamas rockets. While I look forward to a lasting ceasefire and a return to the peace process, I worry for the future and for the innocent people who have been dragged into this conflict. While Israel has allowed in humanitarian aid, food and power all along, the blockade that it imposed on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas ejected Fatah will not be lifted until Hamas recognises Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and accepts the previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. While the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the extermination of the Jews there is little hope. There is no evidence that Hamas wants peace or coexistence with Israel. There cannot be negotiation until Hamas publicly and officially recognises Israel in all regards.