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Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Page: 1958

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:56): Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator FIFIELD: Thank you. It is often fraught to deal with complex foreign affairs issues by way of motions. If this motion had been taken as formal, the government would have voted against it. I will briefly outline our reasons for that.

The Australian government does strongly support the resumption of final status negotiations aimed at reaching a just and lasting two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders. The question of Israeli settlements is a key point of negotiations for any resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and the Australian government will not pre-empt outcomes of ongoing final status negotiations.

Australia does stand ready to assist in any way it can to support the Middle East peace process, including through supporting Palestinian development. Australian assistance to the Palestinian territories in 2013-14 will be $55 million, focused on improving governance, rural livelihoods and the delivery of basic services to Palestinians.