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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 4057

Dr ALY (Cowan) (16:37): I rise to make a statement about Australia voting against the UNHCR inquiry into the deaths of Palestinians protesters. I'd like to make it clear that I support Israel's right to exist and that Labor has a history of supporting Israel as well its right to defend itself against aggression. But we also have an obligation to ask questions, even of our friends—and perhaps especially of our friends. Support for Israel does not preclude this. It does not stop us from supporting an investigation into events that resulted in the deaths of 60 people, including women and children.

No matter what side you take on this, people died. People—human beings—were killed. Asking questions and conducting an investigation is not an indictment of guilt, but it is important to demonstrate a concern for the conditions and the events that led to these deaths. As such, the government needs to provide answers as to why it was one of just two countries, along with the United States, to vote against the UNHCR motion. I continue to hope for a lasting peaceful solution where the rights of Israel and the rights of Palestinian are balanced through a two-state solution. I call on both sides to work towards peace. I visited Israel last year and I met with people on the ground who had overcome fear and hatred to work for peace. They provide hope. But hope cannot thrive where violence continues to be the way in which both sides communicate. (Time expired)