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Meeting with Australian Palestinian Advocacy Organisation

June 29, 2012

With representatives of the Australian Palestinian Advocacy Group

On November 6, 2003, I had the great pleasure as NSW Premier to award the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian academic and human rights campaigner Hanan Ashrawi.

This award recognised Dr Ashrawi’s relentless advocacy for the cause of human rights and her persistent efforts to progress the seemingly intractable Middle East peace process.

I welcomed Dr Ashrawi, “As one who condemns the delusions that feed violence – as one who speaks out against fundamentalisms – and as one who has made enemies on all sides in the quest for the long-awaited peace.”

In the same speech I made the point that:

The Palestinians have no homeland. Israel has no peace. In one fact…lies the solution to the other. It will not happen in the next hundred days. It may not happen in the next five years. But a beginning must be made. It cannot happen unless the violence stops.”

I further went on to say:

Violence only ever serves to retard the Palestinian cause. Israel will never consent to the creation of a Palestinian state under the duress of terror. You cannot bomb your way to statehood. You cannot bomb your way to peace.

So there must be an end to bloodshed and terror. And competing tribal narratives of victimhood.

Peace continues to elude us, but its cause is one we remain absolutely committed to.

This week, I met representatives of the Australian Palestinian Advocacy Group, including its President Reverend James Barr, to discuss these challenges.

In the meeting, I outlined Australia’s support for a negotiated, two-state solution and our practical support for the right of the Palestinian people for their own state.

This support is substantive. Just last month I met the Commissioner General of the UNRWA, the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, to sign a $90 million, five year partnership agreement. This is part of a $300 million program aimed to help Palestinian efforts to build the institutions of statehood.

But this is only half of the equation.

Israel has a right to peace and security. Australia’s support for Israel’s legitimate security concerns and Israel’s right to self-defence is steadfast.

The Australian Government consistently calls on both sides to avoid unilateral provocations, including rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli settlement construction.

In August of this year I will visit Israel and the Palestinian Territories. And I look forward to meeting Israelis and Palestinians committed to peace and a two-state solution and again crossing paths with my friend Dr Ashrawi.

4 Comments
  1. June 29, 2012 10:50 am

    I sincerely hope that the Australian aid will go toward creating constructive, positive institutions of Palestinian Arab statehood, rather than merely to maintain idle, dependent and resentful populations in crowded UNWRA camps with little to do but latch on to leaders who promise extreme, militant solutions. Also with respect to Palestinian aid, it is important to make sure that such aid is not used for the development or implementation of intrinsically hateful and anti-Semitic school curricula or other programs or materials (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textbooks_in_the_Palestinian_territories) that promote violence and dehumanise their peace-loving Israeli neighbors.

  2. Jessica Morrison permalink
    July 4, 2012 12:19 pm

    From all reports, Australian aid has been contributing positively to institutions, and the UN have said that Palestine was ‘ready to govern’ over a year ago. If the Palestinians could have their resonable aspirations for Statehood truly supported by the world, I think that this would significantly reduce any resentment. I’m horrified by the daily dehumanising effects that the blockade of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank causes.

  3. July 6, 2012 2:23 pm

    The commenter above (A Engler Anderson) attacking textbooks in Palestinian schools ignores the fact that Israeli schools teach children distorted reality as well, replicating the narrative that all the Arab states (and people) want the destruction of Israel because they are anti-semites. Of course, the commenter above probably subscribes to that narrative himself.

    Regarding the posting of Mr Carr – I do congratulate you for awarding the 2003 peace prize to Dr Ashrawi in the face of a sustained campaign to discredit her and Palestinian voices for peace. However, suggesting the kind of equivalence between Palestinian rockets and Israeli settlements that you do only gives ground to those who campaign in that way. There is no equivalence between the discriminatory Israeli state, which is guaranteed a perpetual qualitative military edge thanks to western aid, and Palestinians living in the occupied territories, inside the borders of 1948 Israel, or in the diaspora.

    I’d also like to state here that Australia’s relationship with Egypt, and our unwillingness to challenge the military regime there when it really counts, also stems from our desire for stability and safety for Israel – something that Austin Mackell, the falsely-accused Australian journalist who has asked repeatedly for you to intervene in his case, has written about at length: http://austingmackell.wordpress.com/

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