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Thursday, 22 October 2015
Page: 12299


Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsDeputy Manager of Opposition Business) (11:43): We are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was a true warrior for Israel and visionary for peace. His death at the hands of a Jewish extremist sent shock waves throughout Israel and the region. The echoes of those gunshots reverberated around the world, touching many here in Australia because the ties between Australia and Israel are deep and enduring.

I am always proud to remember that it was foreign minister 'Doc' Evatt, one of the intellectual luminaries of the Labor Party, who was the first to vote in the General Assembly in favour of the establishment of Israel under United Nations Resolution 181. In 1949, the Chifley government ensured that Australia was among the first nations to formally recognise the newborn state of Israel. It was Israeli politician and diplomat Abba Eban who, in acknowledging the Australian government's contribution to the recognition of Israel, declared:

… the warmth and eloquence with which you welcomed Israel into the family of nations, have earned for you the undying gratitude of our people.

The enduring friendship that our nation has built with the state of Israel has only grown stronger in the 67 years since its creation. Both of our nations are founded in common democratic values, both of our nations aspire to build nations founded in justice, prosperity and peace and, tragically, both of our nations have also suffered the evils of terrorism—although for Israel the threat is on an altogether different scale to that experienced here. The latest spasm of violence in Israel is appalling to see, with a tragic loss of life on both sides of the conflict.

For those who have sought to somehow justify the violence, let me say that, whatever the grievances of the Palestinians, indiscriminate murder will never be a legitimate form of political protest. It is terrorism and it is abhorrent. This latest violence reinforces that we must continue to support a lasting resolution of the conflict, based on the right of Israel to live in peace within secure borders internationally recognised and agreed by the parties and on the realisation of the right of the Palestinian people to also live in peace and security within their own state of Palestine, a state based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps. There is no other course.

But while there is now widespread support for the establishment of a state of Palestine under the terms negotiated by the parties, there is a loud and, I fear, growing chorus opposed to the very existence of the state of Israel. It is imperative that the Palestinian National Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian factions cease all public statements and incitement by their officials and in the media to promote political violence or that are otherwise inimical to the achievement of a peaceful two-state resolution of the conflict. Hamas, which is a listed terrorist organisation under Australian law, must renounce its genocidal charter, commit to re-establishing the rule of law and end summary executions and the persecution of minorities, including in relation to sexual orientation. Israeli leaders too must refrain from rhetoric that seeks to delegitimise the Palestinians and their aspirations to nationhood.

Paul Keating was Prime Minister at the time of Rabin's assassination, and he issued a statement which included the following words, which are as true today as they were back in 1995:

Yitzhak Rabin's vision, strength and commitment were instrumental to achieving the breakthrough in the peace process. His death is a tragedy for Israel, the Middle East and the world.

The best way the world can honour Mr Rabin is to push ahead with the work he began. For Australia's part, we will continue to give our full support to the peace process. Our support for Israel's right to exist in security and safety will remain a guiding principle of our policy.

I am travelling to Israel this Saturday to spend 10 days there meeting with officials from both Israel and the Palestinian National Authority and to participate in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's Beersheba dialogue. I will also be visiting with and offering my support to friends and family who live there.

I go bearing a message of support from my parliamentary colleagues from all sides of politics. In what is often a deeply divided parliament, support for the state of Israel and for the peace process in which she is engaged with the Palestinian people continues to be a matter of rock-solid bipartisan agreement.