Recognise Palestine

Motion to South Australian Legislative Council

On 5 July 2017, The Hon. T.A. Franks (Greens SA) tabled this Motion (full text and speech below) in the Legislative Council (Upper House), in the South Australian Parliament.

The Motion will be debated in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, 2 August 2017.

 

[Source: Hansard]

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 17:27 ): I move:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that Palestinians have suffered denial of their right to self-determination for a century;

2. Recognises that Palestinians have been the victims of massive dispossession for 70 years;

3. Acknowledges that Palestinians have suffered under an Israeli occupation for 50 years;

4. Observes that awareness is growing internationally that the greatest hope for change is international pressure on Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories;

5. Is aware that the Australian government is committed to a two-state solution to this Israeli-Palestinian conflict and unless urgent measures are taken this option will vanish;

6.. Affirms that the continuation of settlement building is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and various resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, the most recent being resolution 2334 (2016), and constitutes a major obstacle to peace;

7. Believes that the support for a two-state solution and for self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians requires taking active measures by the international community; and

8. Calls on the commonwealth government to recognise the state of Palestine as we have recognised the state of Israel.

 

I rise to move this motion on the recognition of Palestine and to make reflections on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a time that—as George Browning, former Anglican bishop of Canberra and currently President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, most aptly put—commemorates a 100th, a 70th and a 50th anniversary in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The 100th anniversary is that of the Balfour Declaration. In 1916, during World War I, Sharif Hussein bin Ali of Mecca led an uprising against the Ottoman Empire in return for Britain's promise to recognise the independence of the Arab countries between the Mediterranean and Arabian seas. The following year, without consulting the Palestinians, Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour reneged on the agreement by declaring that Britain would support the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

The 70th anniversary is that of the 1947 UN resolution 181 calling for Palestine's partition into Jewish and Arab states. The former was realised in the following year, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes to make way for the establishment of Israel. The latter is yet to be born. The 50th anniversary took place last month. On 10 June 1967, Israel in six days completed its conquest of Palestine and began its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. However, I am not here today to move this motion as a history lesson, although the history and those most poignant dates are an opportunity to give pause.

The Greens are comfortable in moving this motion because we understand that justice for the people of Palestine is critical to achieving lasting peace in the region for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The Greens have long worked inside and outside parliaments to oppose Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Greens strongly oppose Israel's ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and recognise the historic and ongoing injustices suffered by the Palestinians.

However, the Greens are also very cognisant and in admiration of the work of those in other parties. In this case, the motion that I put to this council today reflects a motion put in the other place and passed with amendment by the member for Light, Mr Tony Piccolo. The Greens support Mr Piccolo's efforts and also acknowledge that the Labor caucus gave support, not only to that motion but to effecting that motion being debated in the other place and the consensus that was reached with an amendment to that motion in the other place. I look forward to a similar amendment here and supporting that amendment, which will be moved by the Hon. Kyam Maher to that same effect.

Cross-party cooperation on this issue is actually quite prevalent in this state parliament. In all of my time in this parliament, I have been privileged to be a member of Friends of Palestine, which has always had bipartisan co-chairs from Labor and Liberal and, indeed, membership across the political divides in this place. In that spirit, I put the motion here today. I do so noting that, while state parliaments have no direct influence in international affairs, this motion effectively would acknowledge that Palestine has become one of the great moral issues of the 21st century, and in doing so, I reflect the words of the AFOPA media release of 22 June 2017 welcoming this motion passing in the other place.

I also note on a personal level that I have had people come up and hug me in joy and gratitude that such a motion has been moved in the South Australian parliament. While we may not have the power as lawmakers to effect a change in what is going on in our global community, we do have the power of the leadership—the leadership of our words in this place and the leadership of our votes. It brought back home to me that this is not an issue that is historical. This is not an issue that is on the other side of the planet. This is an issue that does affect and is important to many in our community.

The recent Australian opinion poll, commissioned by five different groups with an interest in advocacy on the Palestinian issue, showed that the South Australian parliament is not alone in those views. Seventy-three per cent of Australians want Palestine recognised as an independent state, according to the recently commissioned Roy Morgan poll, and 61 per cent of Australians condemn the building of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Both of those figures are up from previous polls and are continuing to rise.

With those historic anniversaries, it is a timely point for this parliament to consider this issue. I do not intend to make a long speech tonight. I hope that we can work in a bipartisan and cross‑party way. In doing so, I would note that South Australia does not stand alone in recognising Palestine as a state. Across the world, 138 states, including most recently Sweden and the Vatican, recognise the state of Palestine. The British and French parliaments have voted in support of recognition by their respective governments and, as I say, the majority of Australians recognise this.

I put this motion to this place today because without leadership we will be part of the silence that allows injustice to exist. Without justice you will not have peace and without peace you will not have justice. I observe that if there was one person one vote, in what is recognised by so many other countries and states as the Palestinian state right at this moment, those votes alone would see Palestine recognised as a state.

Recently, when Netanyahu visited our country, I noted that no less than former premier Carr and former prime ministers Hawke and Rudd all called for recognition. I note also the leadership previously of Malcolm Fraser on this issue. If we do not use our voices as parliamentarians and as those who have been recognised as leaders in our community, then we see injustice continue.

With those few words, I say this is not an anti-Israel motion by any means. I acknowledge the work previously of similar motions in the other place and in this place on anti-Semitism and a range of other issues. We can show leadership from this council. Many in the community are urging us to show leadership. The majority of Australians want to see peace in the Middle East on this issue, and with a few small gestures from this state parliament we can give great succour and comfort to those who are not only refugees in their own country but often come here as refugees to our state.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M. Gazzola.