Danby explains Obama’s position to Parliament

June 2, 2011 Agencies
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Federal Labor MP Michael Danby has addressed Federal Parliament focusing on the current situation in the Middle East. Danby’s speech:

President Obama’s reference to the 1967 borders in his state department speech has been misunderstood by some to suggest that the final borders of a two-state solution will replicate those pre-1967 lines. What President Obama said was more nuanced. In his speech to the AIPAC conference in Washington he distilled his reference to borders, emphasising the phrase ‘with land swaps’, which was largely ignored by members of the electronic media ignorant of these important distinctions.

He said:

Michael Danby

And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what ‘1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps’ means. By definition, it means the parties themselves—Israelis and Palestinians—will negotiate a border that is a different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. That is what mutually agreed upon swaps means. … it allows the parties themselves to take account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.

 

Exactly. It would be impossible for Israel to go back to what the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has described as indefensible borders. It seems to have been lost on some commentators that the President of the United States made clear the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas blocks progress to peace. As the American President argued: how can Israel negotiate with an organisation who refuse to accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognising Israel’s existence, renouncing violence and respecting previous arrangements made by the Palestinian Authority?

 

President Obama noted, ‘No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction.’ Let me remind the House, particularly the members for Fremantle and Calwell, that Hamas is still classified as a terrorist organisation by this parliament. The President’s caution on Hamas cannot be ignored. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation in the United States, Europe and Australia. Hamas’s founding statement of purpose calls for the destruction of Israel. Hamas’s leading ideologue, Khaled Meshal, is closeted in Damascus and is protected by the Syrian dictator Assad. After the agreement between the two Palestinian factions, Meshal said Hamas would not recognise Israel, nor would it renounce violence.

 

The New York Times on 5 May 2011 reported that Meshal ‘declined to swear off violence or to agree that a Palestinian state would produce an end to the conflict’. As soon as the unification arrangement had been signed, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader who participated in the talks with Abbas, said, ‘Our program does not include negotiations with Israel, or recognising it.’ That statement was made in Cairo on 28 April.

It is therefore preposterous to claim that Israel now has a partner in peace. Unifying the Palestinian factions would only progress peace negotiations if Hamas renounces its charter, with its ugly use of the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hamas’s bad faith is demonstrated by its refusal to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been cruelly held for five years without contact with the Red Cross or his family. Hamas repudiates the insistence by the quartet—the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations—that all Palestinian factions renounce violence.

Importantly, Hamas acts as a proxy for the aggressive regime in Tehran. Tehran has lavished weaponry on Hamas in Gaza. In March this year a ship, the Victoria, was seized before it reached Gaza. On it weapons were found en route from Iran via Syria that were to be delivered to the Hamas terrorist organisation. Since 2001, 13,000 rockets have been fired by Hamas into southern Israel, many of them factory-produced in Iran.

Some point to the British government negotiating with the IRA as a model for negotiating peace in the Middle East. However, Prime Minister Tony Blair only negotiated with the IRA once they had renounced violence and ceased calling for the destruction of  Ulster. It is very regrettable that the Palestinian Authority has refused over the past two years to come to direct talks with the Israelis; they have only been engaged in indirect talks via the quartet. The US made it clear that it will not support the UN vote in September on a unilateral Palestinian state and I hope Australia will not either. I want to advance an alternative strategy to Mr Abbas and his allies in Hamas: accept the three conditions of the quartet—renounce violence, acknowledge the existence of the state of Israel and uphold previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority—and immediately call for internationally supervised elections in the West Bank and Gaza. After all, neither the PA nor Hamas have faced the voters since 2006. I am sure Australia would be willing to be of assistance. We all want to constructively advance the two-state solution.

 

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