Dreyfus responds to Tim Wilson’s motion on Labor position on Israel/Palestine

May 23, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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Labor Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has responded to Liberal MP Tim Wilson’s motion in the Federation Chamber in the Australian parliament condemning senior Labor  figures calling for a formal recognition of a Palestinian State.

Mark Dreyfus

Dreyfus said: “Today, the Australian Labor Party’s relationship with Israel is built on the same robust base that founded our friendship generations ago: shared democratic values and a common commitment to justice and to the rights, liberty and security of our citizens. Many of my colleagues in both major parties have travelled to Israel and the Palestinian territories to see firsthand the challenges being faced. No friend of Israel will forget that throughout both Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge Prime Ministers Rudd and Gillard publicly and unequivocally reaffirmed the right of Israel to defend its citizens against attacks by Hamas, a terrorist organisation that continues to reject Israel’s very right to exist. Labor also unequivocally opposes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign, which seeks to disrupt normal relations with Israel and so only to increase the polarisation that underpins the conflict in the Middle East.

While our national political debate has become increasingly partisan, I take comfort in knowing that on many issues affecting Israel my political opponents in the Liberal Party and I are usually in agreement. This bipartisanship has not always been in place. Of the 15 Jews who have served in the federal parliament since World War II, 12 have been in the Australian Labor Party. This may be referable to a number of historical factors, including Labor’s enthusiastic support for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, while the Liberal Party under Robert Menzies opposed that historic event, and the strong personal and cultural links between the Australian Labor Party, the Histadrut and the great Israeli Labor prime ministers, including David Ben Gurion, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin.

Tim Wilson

However, today both major parties recognise that Australia’s interests, as well as the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, are best served by rock-solid, bipartisan support for both peoples, and for the peace process in which they are engaged. I consider it critically important that the two major parties continue to ensure this bipartisanship is maintained.
This motion, by an irresponsible backbencher, is an unfortunate exception to this bipartisanship. The tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the fraught peace process in which they have been involved for generations are not playthings for Australian politicians desperately seeking to score some cheap political points.

There are sufficient divisions already in the Middle East, and no Australian MP should be seeking to import divisions to our Parliament. More significantly, the peace process is a matter of life and death for both Israelis and Palestinians, and should never be the subject of cheap political point scoring here. Labor’s position is set out clearly in our national platform. In that guiding document, we unequivocally state:
Labor supports an enduring and just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the right of Israel to live in peace within secure borders internationally recognised and agreed by the parties, and reflecting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to also live in peace and security within their own state.

Paul Keating was the Prime Minister of Australia at the time of Prime Minister Rabin’s assassination, and he issued a statement which included the following words, as true today as they were back in 1995:
The best way the world can honour Mr Rabin is to push ahead with the work that he began. For Australia’s part, we will continue to give our full support to the peace process. Our support for Israel’s right to exist in security and safety will remain a guiding principle of our policy.

And it is still our policy in the Australian Labor Party, just as it was then, as stated by Prime Minister Keating. I call on all members of this parliament who respect Israel and the Palestinians and who are genuine in their support for the fragile peace process to put petty politics aside and support those peoples in the spirit of true bipartisanship as Australian politicians united in a rare but noble common purpose.”

Tim Wilson’s motion:

That this House notes that:

(a) Israel is a legitimate democratic state and ally of Australia;
(b) Australia remains committed to Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and continues to support a peaceful two-state resolution for the Israeli-Palestinian issue;
(c) Australia and Israel have a unique relationship supported by a commitment to the rights and liberty of their citizenry, the rule of law and a pluralist society underpinned by mutual respect;
(d) there is a concerning collapse of the traditional support among Australia’s political parties for the path to a peaceful agreement between the State of Israel and the Palestinians for a two-state solution; and
(e) the culture within the Australian Labor Party (ALP) regarding foreign policy is deteriorating, aided by high profile party figures who perpetrate enduring myths about the causes of instability in the Middle East; and
(2) calls on the ALP to:
(a) reject the empty symbolism within the politically correct interpretation of issues in the Middle East;
(b) condemn senior figures within it who have called for Australia, independent of any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, to formally recognise a Palestinian state.

The Federation Chamber is a second debating chamber that considers relatively uncontroversial matters referred by the House.

The Federation Chamber cannot, however, initiate or make a final decision on any parliamentary business, although it can perform all tasks in between.


12 Responses to “Dreyfus responds to Tim Wilson’s motion on Labor position on Israel/Palestine”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Jerusalem was built by Jews and used as the place most holy to worship G-d by Jews long, long before Christianity and Islam existed, so an equal division between ‘religions’ is not equitable. An Open City under UN control! The UN can’t even control its own Departments, which operate on a daily basis both ineffectually and with bias governed by the likes of Arab countries, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia et al, all wonderful proponents of goodwill and humane treatment of human beings.

    Just as well you’re not drawing up the borders, Adrian, you don’t even bother to consider the ramifications of your suggestions when envisaging them.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    Tim Wilson is a great advocate for a number of social issues which I support and admire but this resolution is bias and ridiculous.

    I think Mark Dreyfus is a excellent MHR too.

    The first sub paragraph say “Israel ….is an ally of Australia”. Both countries have never come to the aid of each other in time of war, be it in West Asia or in combat zones like former South Vietnam.

    Both the Labor and Liberal party support, not just peace settlement, but a two separate states.

    The non use of the word Palestine is a concern too.

    The UN should draw a border from Jerusalem to the Mediterranean Sea with Israel to the north and Palestine to the South.

    Jerusalem should be declared an open city under UN control because of its relevant to the three monotheistic religions located there.

  3. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    I am not a fan of Tim Wilson, nor of the Liberal Party. Whatever Wilson’s motivation for his motion (and despite Mark Dreyfus’ comments on party politics, it could well be sincere), I agree with it fully. There’s no doubt that Labor has weakened its resolve where support of Israel is concerned and, under the continuing pressure of Rhiannon and her ilk, moved steadily toward sympathy with Palestinian rhetoric. Of course, the demographic make-up of their Sydney electorates influence that as well.

    Shame on you Mark Dreyfus for peddling the simplistic two-state ‘solution’ as the be all and end all, which so many now use to sit on the fence and avoid facing realities, avoid showing REAL support.

  4. Leon Poddebsky says:

    I have just read that the US president issued a transparent rebuke to the so-called “Palestinian Authority” president for rewarding and glorifying terrorists.
    Trump declared that peace cannot be achieved in that kind of environment.
    Oh dear, Trump has thereby just disqualified himself from membership in the Australian Labour Party.

    • Henry Herzog says:

      Many people in the ALP would agree that an environment where terrorism is glorified is not one were peace can be achieved. The Coalition, knowing full well that the PLO glorifies terrorists, are still advocating the same 2 state solution as is Labor, and as is most of the western world.
      A pretty pitiful and desperate way to attack Labor.

  5. Henry Herzog says:

    Not long ago Tim Wilson ran a campaign to rid our racial discrimination laws of a section that outlaws Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic rubbish in the name of free speech. Seems it upset many of his Jewish constituents in his seat of Goldstein. So to regain their support he has put forward a motion in parliament for Labor MPs to swear loyalty to Israel, to which many of his coalition colleagues don’t. Just like Pavlov’s dogs: Say the right thing, and they’ll come running: How pathetic.

  6. Maurice May says:

    The continuing subjugation of Palestinians is not conducive to a peaceful resolution. If one pretends that the present status quo can continue for ever then regretfully this is an illusion

    The current policies of the Israeli government are opposed by a substantial minority of Israelis.

    Yet here we are supposed to pretend that that is not so. In the long run some sort of peace agreement must be reached and to do so it is certainly preferable to deal with a State rather than no one.

  7. Baron M Revelman says:

    In case Mr Dreyfus is wondering why it is so quiet, it is because I am applauding with only one hand. It is very nice that he acknowledges Hamas as a terrorist organisation, whose very raison d’etre is the annihilation of Israel from the face of the earth, but could it really have escaped his notice that the Palestinian Authority, the governing body for the Palestinians, is an adjunct of the PLO whose charter likewise calls for the annihilation of Israel, ergo the PA is the same. Maybe even worse, through its open financial and moral support to countless terrorists, both inside Israeli jails, and in the community at large. To actually believe that these are people and/or organisations that are “partners for peace” would be laughable if it weren’t so life threateningly serious.

  8. Leon Poddebsky says:

    It’s fascinating that so many people pretend to believe that if only the Arab Palestinians could have total sovereignty (rather than their current autonomy) they would accept Israel’s legitimacy and get on with a normal human lifestyle.
    Those people are not hearing the Arab Palestinian message, even though it’s loud and clear. Just ask any product of their education system.

  9. david singer says:

    As to Mr Dreyfus’s statement:
    “Paul Keating was the Prime Minister of Australia at the time of Prime Minister Rabin’s assassination, and he issued a statement which included the following words, as true today as they were back in 1995:
    The best way the world can honour Mr Rabin is to push ahead with the work that he began.”

    Mr Rabin’s historic path and his ideas and visions are set out in the speech he delivered to the Knesset on October 5, 1995 – just days before his assassination – when presenting the 300 page “Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”. That speech identified the following signposts that Mr Rabin’s historic path and vision sought to take:

    1. First and foremost, the State of Israel would be a Jewish State, at least 80% of whose citizens would be Jews.

    2. The State of Israel would include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate; and alongside it a Palestinian entity which would be home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

    3. The Palestinian entity would be less than a state and would independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.

    4. The borders of the State of Israel would be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. Israel would not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

    The main changes Mr Rabin envisaged as a result were:

    a) Jerusalem would be united and would include both Maale Adumim and Givat Zeev as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty;

    b) The security border of Israel would be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term;

    c) Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities in the area east of what was the “Green Line” prior to the Six Day War would be included in the State of Israel;

    d) Blocs of settlements would be established in Judea and Samaria like the one in Gush Katif;

    e) No single settlement would be uprooted in the framework of the Interim Agreement, nor building hindered for natural growth;

    f) The responsibility for the external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and the Gaza Strip maritime zone, would remain in Israeli hands; and

    g) Murderers of Jews, or those who had wounded others seriously, would not be released.

    Rabin’s policy is a thousand light years away from the Labor Party’s policy as currently espoused by Mr.Dreyfus.

    In the words of Tolstoy:
    “Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”

    • Leon Poddebsky says:


      The Labor Party’s policy framers are not motivated by a desire for peace to be achieved.
      They have a totally different agenda.
      Therefore, although one should expose their hypocrisy, as you have done, the facts that you have cited will fall on Labor Party ears that have been studiously deafened.

      They like to trot out Mr Dreyfus in the mistaken belief that the obfuscations of a Jew will have more credibility than those delivered by someone else.

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