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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 14045


Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (10:15): I rise to mark the importance of today being the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1978. The day marks an occasion and an opportunity for governments, parliaments and indeed public opinion to reflect on the events of 29 November 1947, when the UN resolved to partition Palestine, effectively splitting the Palestinian people from their land, displacing them and rendering them homeless and stateless for generations to come. Today, 65 years later, in the UN General Assembly, in what is a historic move, a motion will be considered to recognise Palestine as a non-voting member state of the UN—a resolution that if, as expected, it passes will go some way to rectifying this historical injustice, an injustice that sits at the heart of continued conflict in the Middle East. In a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people, and with a slight sign of frustration over the latest failure in the peace process, most nations of the world, some 132, are expected to vote in support of Palestine's bid to be granted observer status at the UN General Assembly.

In acknowledging the Australian government's decision to abstain from this historic vote, I want to note my deepest regrets that we will not be on the right side of history by voting yes. I, together with a large number of my constituents and millions of Australians, reaffirm our support for a just, fair and peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—one that involves an independent Palestinian state and an Israel that is safe and secure in its borders. Contrary to what opponents of the yes vote suggest, a yes vote will not hinder the peace process between Palestine and Israel. On the contrary, I believe that it will advance it. This is a significant step in the right direction. Proclamations that the recognition of a Palestinian state are detrimental to the peace process must realise that the current stalemate in the peace process feeds discontent and frustration amongst the Palestinian people. Now, more than ever, they need a sign of hope; they need to feel that the international community, Australia included, has not abandoned them and has not turned a blind eye to their plight, but rather that it is prepared to be bold enough and wise enough to recognise their right to exist.

With your indulgence, Deputy Speaker, I would like to thank, with utmost sincerity and gratitude, those who have rallied and mobilised for a just outcome on Palestine's membership at the UN. They are, of course: the ambassador, His Excellency Izzat Abdulhadi, Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific; the Australian Friends of Palestine—for all of their hard work; the Rev. James Barr, the Rev. Gregor Henderson, Jessica Morrison and all the team at the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network; and my constituents and the number of Australians who greatly support this action today. (Time expired)