Delegates, good people can agree on the spirit of a resolution –like the one before us – even if they disagree on some details.
There can be no peace without justice, but equally there can be no justice without truth.
The central and tragic truth of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is that two peoples, the Jewish people and the Palestinians, have deep, centuries-long historical ties to a territory no larger than half of Tasmania.
Both peoples want their political independence and to live in peace and freedom. It would be contrary to the great principle of equal justice on which the Labor Party operates to affirm a collective right of self-determination for either peoples, while denying it to the other.
That is why the great Ben Chifley and Doc Evatt three quarters of a century ago supported the UN recommendation in favour of the creation of two States for these two peoples.
This principle remains at the bedrock of Labor policy to this day and, despite all the obstacles to its achievement on both sides, it is the sentiment behind the resolution now before us.
What a tragedy for the peoples of that land that peace was never secured.
Every time the moderate left in Israel were fobbed off in peace negotiations with the Palestinian leadership – as in 2000, 2001 and 2007/8, the Right grows stronger in Israel. The Left weaker.
Let me insist: a true friend of Israel is a friend of the Palestinian people. Viewing the conflict from a one-eyed perspective will not achieve peace. Any lasting solution cannot be at the expense of either Palestinians or Israelis.
I see Israel as a vibrant democracy. The street protests are proof. Protection of trade union and religious rights too. I agree with Premier Dan Andrews who said a few months ago: “Israel is indeed, the only place in the region with a pride march, the only place in the region where women are treated equally … I can go on and on.”
This too is also hopefully the future for Palestinians.
Palestine and Israel relations present as a fragile, conflict-affected, and vulnerable setting, where social cohesion, resilience, and trust need to be built, sustained, and strengthened. People of goodwill among Israelis and Palestinians are working on a range of projects to achieve this, something often overlooked by the media.
Therefore, there is scope for Australia to provide aid, bi-lateral assistance, and exchanges of expertise in a host of areas: including health, environment, economic, police training, and related fields.
Terrorism must be condemned, and more must be done by Hamas, the PLO, and Israel to affirm this position.
I agree with the Nobel Prize-winning statesman, the late Shimon Peres. “We do not have the option in this part of the world to be pessimists. We choose to be optimists.” That’s how I approach the challenges addressed by the resolution before us.