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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1506

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) - I support the original proposition moved by Senator Kane and also the amendment to that proposition moved by Senator Byrne on behalf of Senator Kane. I think that everyone who has taken part in this debate has spoken most sincerely. However, I think that they completely overlooked certain facts in their condemnation of Senator Kane's motion, particularly in regard to the opening clauses of that motion. I would like to remind honourable senators that for evil to triumph it is only necessary that honest men remain silent. I deplore the attitude to international events today that one must shut one 's eyes and not observe the obvious, that one must pretend that what is going on is not happening because in that way we will get world peace. I do not believe that we will get world peace that way at all. Indeed, incidents that take place around the world today show quite clearly that it is only when things that are wrong are dragged out into the open and condemned by honest people throughout the world that nations that are attempting to engage in these acts for the promotion of their own power basis abandon their efforts and begin to conciliate and lean towards an attitude of world peace.

It is wrong to ignore the part that the Soviet Union is playing in the Middle East conflict or the part that it is still playing in the Korean conflict. As I suggested by way of interjection to the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee), it is wrong to ignore the fact that the United Nations is still at war in Korea. It is true that there is a ceasefire agreement in that country, but there is no negotiated peace agreement. Even today representatives of the Soviet Union appear continually at peace conferences to conduct negotiations with members of the United Nations. If anyone doubts that this conflict is still going on one may venture to ask what these representatives are doing there? If these are the facts of the circumstances that apply in Korea today, surely we should not blush when we state these facts. If we do we shall not succeed in allaying those things which can create conditions that can lead to a major conflict in the world today, a conflict which we all want to avoid.

I revert to the opening sentences of the resolution moved on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to prove that we in no way have attempted to apportion blame. But it is sheer stupidity to want to talk about this question and to shut one 's eyes to the facts that caused the conflagration that at present is going on in the Middle East. The resolution moved on behalf of my Party refers to the present conflict, but I will go back further than that. The first part of our resolution states:

(   1 ) That the Senate, noting reports-

(a)   that, in the hours immediately before the outbreak of war in the Middle East, the Israeli Government with US diplomatic help sought to avert hostilities,

We must decide whether or not that statement is a fact. The resolution continued:

(b)   that Israel offered assurances to both the Egyptian and Soviet Government of its peaceful intentions in the hope of preventing an outbreak of hostilities, and

(c)   that, despite these Israeli efforts, UN observers have reported that it was Egyptian and Syrian forces which commenced hostilities by attacking Israeli positions an the ceasefire lines along the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights,

Surely it is not provocative in our effort to persuade the Senate to express our concern to the United Nations to recount what was said by the United Nations observers. Surely the United Nations cannot be an influence in creating peace in this area if it sits blindly with its hands over its eyes so that it cannot see what is actually happening in the world. If this happens no one will listen to what is said by a powerful body such as the United Nations.

I said that I would refer to what happened prior to the outbreak of the present conflict. I would like to refer to what has happened since the Six-Day War took place. We must spare a moment to consider these events because we would not have a conflict in the Middle East now if the Six-Day War had not taken place. We should refresh our memories about the circumstances existing when the Six-Day War broke out. Those circumstances were that Nasser, who led the Arab nation, was supplied with the most sophisticated armaments of warfare by the Soviet Union; he closed the Suez Canal; he demanded the withdrawal of the United Nations forces from the Gaza Strip thus cutting off the Straits of Tiran from the Israelis and placed

Israel in the situation where she was being encircled by a Nasser-led Arab nation which was making most boastful statements about its intention to wipe out completely the Israeli nation. Israel- perhaps wrongly on that occasionsought a peaceful solution by consultations with the major powers- that is all on the record- and finally, when she seemed to be abandoned and standing alone in this isolation that was gradually being forced upon her, launched herself against the Arabian forces that were gathering and wiped them out of existence within 6 days. She established the lines which now exist. In our motion we do not suggest that it is Israeli territory. We define the lines factually as they are. The lines which Israel established are the ceasefire lines, as we mentioned in our motion. So this war began 6 years ago.

The Soviet Union then established in the Arabian states up to 20,000 military experts who were advising and training in the use of still more sophisticated armoury and weapons which it had supplied and still continues to supply. Senator Wheeldon drew attention to what is a fact today- the conflict of interests. The Soviet Union is still supplying arms to the Arab nations, and America is trying desperately to catch up by supplying arms to Israel. But one must pause there and ask: 'What are the intentions?' In regard to this conflict of interests, what specific interest has the United States of America in supplying arms to Israel? In a commercial sense, probably America is far more interested in the other side in the conflict. One must ask the reasons why America allows herself to get into the situation where she is only endeavouring to match with what the Soviet Union has already supplied and is continuing to pour into an area of conflict.

A sinister note has crept into the reports that we have received. No doubt this could be checked by the United Nations although the Australian Democratic Labor Party can only reiterate the reports that have appeared in the newspapers, although they seem to be authentic reports. Those reports seem to establish that the Soviet Union has supplied equipment to the Arabs and has trained the Arabs in the use of that equipment. This equipment was used by the Arabs in the attack which was made against the Israeli positions, and we are not saying whether they were legally occupied positions as a result of the Six-Day War. The Soviet Union then informed Israel that the attack was likely to come. I am only an Australian who happens to take some interest in international affairs, but here was a situation in which a country was endeavouring to provoke a war to which there would be no immediate solution; a war that could well follow the pattern of the Korean War in which the United Nations was and still is involved; the type of war that is and has been crippling Western democracies as they are created in country after country. By a strange coincidence, the same influence seems to have been exerted all the time.

Are we to ignore these facts? Are we to endeavour to establish peace by blinding our eyes because we believe that if we crawl on our bellies we are more likely to get peace than if we stand up like men and reiterate the facts, and let it be known that we observe what is happening and are not trying to fool ourselves and everybody else with an imaginative picture of doves of peace flying around the world? With the enormous supremacy that Israel established in the Six-Day War, she could have gone far beyond the lines she established. Are we not entitled to think for ourselves and to say that at least it was a gesture that she had no real intention to occupy the territories of others, other than in the sense of occupying what was necessary in order to ensure her own security? Now the situation has changed with the pouring in of the extra equipment. Israel gets the tip-off that action is to be taken against her, but this time she restrains herself from taking the initial advantage and, small as she is and surrounded as she is, allows the advantage to go to the other side.

I think that Israel is a country that has not shut her eyes to what is happening in the world. She is one of the few countries today that is standing up to her responsibilities to herself and to the rest of the world. Israel is not weak in her capacity to defend herself in spite of the enormous strength of the forces that surround her. She is becoming really the bulwark for world peace, although there are those who would attempt to brand her as an aggressor. This is a nation that is capable of taking care of herself; this is not an Australia that is strong in her own right and able to protect the enormous natural wealth that is to be found in one of the largest continents in the world with one of the smallest populations. Israel is not Australia, she can stand on her own feet. Israel stands in far more difficult circumstances than we know.

This conflict in the Middle East could be an enormous threat to world peace. I warn the leaders of the nation who sit in the Senate- after all, we humbly accept the privilege to be able to sit here among those who are supposed to lead this nation- that they should not allow Australia, with its enormous natural wealth and its present situation in world affairs, to become so tragically weak that it cannot defend itself in the world as it is today; in a world where there has been a ceasefire in Korea for 20 years against United Nations forces but where no peaceful settlement has yet been reached; in a world where there is a Vietnam.

There are those who want to take no sides in this conflict in the Middle East, although they were very ready to take sides against those who did not step into North Vietnam and were prepared to walk under banners calling for the success of Ho Chi-Minh who led North Vietnam against South Vietnam. I warn the leaders of the nation that with Australia becoming as weak as she is today, she too could become one of the greatest challenges to world peace. The weaker a country becomes, the greater the danger to world peace. Australia has a lesson to learn from the situation in the Middle East. All that Israel has tried to do has been merely to find a place for herself in the affairs of the world. Perhaps what Israel has done, as Senator Wheeldon rightly said, was not done with complete justice to everybody concerned, but it is an established fact today that Israel has created a miracle in an area of the world where people had to grub from the hostile environment only the barest necessities of life. Israel has transformed the area which she occupies into an economic success beyond even her own dreams. She has shown that she is prepared to stand and to die rather than to have it taken from her. I have no hesitation in saying that I will take sides and that I will express my view on this issue. I will not take sides by blaming the Arab nations because I feel that they are but pawns in a bigger pattern that is developing to keep the world in a state of semi-peace and semi-war, a state of constant violation of countries and borders with incidents which stretch the economies of the nations of the world in their endeavours to manufacture and keep pace with the necessity to produce the sophisticated equipment they need for defence in these areas.

I believe, and I say it here- I will say it anywhere- that this is but a small part of an overall pattern and that the Arab nations, whilst they may have some rights and some problems that should be aired before the United Nationssome privileges which should be granted to them and some rights restored to them- when they are equipped as they have been equipped for these purposes and when they are urged on and then their opponents are informed of what is about to happen, they should realise that they are being used as pawns, that nobody wants anyone to win this war, that other nations want the wars to go on and on even when there are no more dividends in the actual conflicts to ensure that there shall not be stabilised peace. We have seen a ceasefire in Korea and a negotiated ceasefire in Vietnam. But there has been no cessation of hostilities in Laos, Cambodia or Thailand. Is it the aggressive Americans and Australians who are maintaining these circumstances in these various theatres throughout the world? I say to Government supporters: 'Do not sit there with your eyes shut. You have a responsibility to open them and you have a responsibility to speak of what you see'. And if we do not see through the same eyes, my eyes see it that way. These are the events and changes that I see happening in international affairs today.

I believe that the proposition which the Democratic Labor Party has placed before the Senate is a real proposition. It is not one which starts with an apology that we will not face the facts. It starts with the facts from the moment the first shots were fired in this particular conflict, which is what we are dealing with at the moment. We are saying: 'Here are the facts, let us achieve a ceasefire'. We amend that proposition to meet the very latest circumstances and we have been challenged on it. We say that we should try to enforce the United Nations ceasefire proposal which is based on direct negotiations for a Middle East settlement between the Arab governments and Israel; and the special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) who has the advantage of having just visited the United Nations says we are wrong, that that is not what was negotiated. I would like him to explain to me the meaning of paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 242 of 1967 which was adopted by the Security Council at its meeting on 22 November 1967. These paragraphs say:

3.   Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

4.   Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.

The Minister referred to that, and if that does not mean direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab states then I would like to know who are the states concerned in the Middle East through whom we have to promote and maintain the peace of the area. I rest the case there. I believe that we must open our eyes and then say what we think about what we observe. The DLP motion is not only in the interests of the people in the area itself who have become involved on this occasion but it is also in the interests of world peace. If Government supporters will listen to us they will learn that the motion is in the interests of the future security and the peace of this nation also for we too are gradually drifting into this whirlpool where our own weakness will be an attraction to the violence which is spreading to this very rich area of the earth's surface which has to date escaped.

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