Q&A in Israel

October 30, 2017 Agencies
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Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Josh Frydenberg and Dan Tehan separately faced the media in Israel. Here are some of the questions…and their answers.

Dan Tehan is Minister for Veterans’ Affairs; Minister for Defence Personnel; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security

Josh Frydenberg witnesses the completion of a torah in Parliament

JOSH FRYDENBERG: Well, it’s a great honour to be here in Jerusalem with my good friend and Parliamentary colleague, Dan Tehan, to pay our respects to the six million Jews who tragically lost their lives in the Holocaust. The Holocaust was not just a crime against the Jewish people, it was a crime against humanity, and when General Eisenhower liberated the camps and saw the sight of the death and destruction that had been wreaked by Nazi forces, he said: there would come a time when the people of the world would not believe what had occurred. Well, it’s up to good people around the world to say never again, and certainly the Holocaust Museum and the brilliant way that it depicts the tragedy of the Holocaust is a good lesson for all of us. Dan.

DAN TEHAN: Josh, you’re absolutely right. We must never, ever forget. We saw today again a reminder of the darkest part of the human soul. Six million people killed in factories that were set up as factories to kill people. One and a half million children died. This is something that the world can never forget, and we have to make sure that we never forget, and it’s been a huge honour to be here with you today, Josh.

QUESTION: This is clearly a very personal and very evocative moment for you, I could see it when you were walking around. Tell me your feelings, personally?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: Well, just like thousands of Jewish Australians, I’ve had relatives who perished in the Holocaust and those who survived, and when you see the faces of the victims of the Holocaust – and as Dan said, 1.5 million children – you cannot help but be moved and to just be amazed at the German people, the people who had produced the likes of Bach and Mozart and Weber could reach such depravity and such a low point in the story of human history. And so for me, it was very moving, but for millions of people who’ve walked through those doors, they share those same feelings of astonishment and sorrow.

QUESTION: Is it alarming when you hear reports of antisemitism on the rise around the world?

JOSH FRYDENBERG : Of course it is, and that is why it’s up to good people the world over to stop them, and in Australia we’re very lucky to have a bipartisan approach to those matters. And you know, when you go through that museum, you’re also told of the stories of the 25,000 plus righteous Gentiles; people like Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler and Catholic priests who did so much to save the lives of innocent Jews who were being sent to their death, and we should never forget them. Despite all that darkness, all that horror, all that death and destruction, there were many good people.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister was supposed to be here today. Disappointed he wasn’t?


Dan Tehan

JOSH FRYDENBERG: The Prime Minister is coming to Israel and I think that’s a sign of his commitment to commemorate the amazing story of Beersheba and the battle that took place 100 years ago, and the incredible contribution of the ANZACs to that battle’s success , but also to the bilateral relationship. And I think the fact that he’s making this visit here, I think it’s the first Prime Ministerial visit since 2000, is very significant.

QUESTION: How would you characterise that relationship between Israel and Australia?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: Vibrant, deep, based in historical relationship, but most importantly, based on shared values: the commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and the prosperity that our two nations enjoy.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister was initially going to meet with the Palestinian authority as well, do you know if that’s still going to go ahead as well as meeting the Israeli Prime Minister?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: I don’t know, but I understand he’s still got a full program here for the days that he’s here, and he’s doing many important events and as well as commemorating the centenary.

DAN TEHAN: Yeah, he will be looking to do as much of the program as he possibly can and so he obviously has got to wait and see to make sure that meetings can be finalised, given that there has been a change. But he’s looking to do as much of the program that he was scheduled to do and I think you’ll find that this will be an incredibly successful visit, both when it comes to his meetings with the Israeli Government, but also when it comes to the relationship between Australia and Israel.

QUESTION: If there is no meeting with the Palestinian Authority, could you understand that could be seen as a snub?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: We’ll leave the details of the program to the Prime Minister’s team, but he is coming here to conduct a full program and as Dan says, this visit will cement an already very strong relationship between our two great countries.

QUESTION: There is a debate within the Labor Party about whether to recognise the Palestinian Authority. It would basically acknowledge that there’s a nation. What would you say to those that favour that course of action?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: Oh look, I’ll leave those matters of foreign policy to both th e Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, other than saying: Australia has a very strong relationship both with the Palestinian people and with Israel. And it’s a relationship that has stood the test of time and we obviously want these two people to live side by side in peace and security.

QUESTION: And yet there’s been years of talk of the two state solution. There’s no sign of it coming in at any moment now, even in the next few years potentially. Is it time to put more pressure on both sides to come together?

JOSH FRYDENBERG: We’ve got a former diplomat here in Dan Tehan and I used to work for Alexander Downer, so both of us know a bit about foreign affairs, but one thing we do know as Members of Parliament is we’ll leave those sensitive matters to our superiors.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good evening, everybody. I am here accompanied by my colleagues, Mark Dreyfus and Warren Snowdon. We will be attending the celebration and commemoration of the Australian Light Horse charge of Beersheba on Tuesday. I am here, along with the Federal Labor Party, to pay tribute to the men of the first ANZAC and the First World War, the Light Horse, and indeed all of the men and women who served in the Middle Eastern theatre of operations in the first World War.

I am also here to pay tribute to the men and women of the Australian Defence Forces serving Australia right now in the Middle East stopping the scourge of terrorism.

JOURNALIST: Can you tell us what you’re doing tomorrow and why?

Bill Short and Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: Haim Zac/GPO

SHORTEN: Well I am looking forward to meeting with the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Hamdallah and I am also looking forward to visiting refugees and work in United Nations in Hebron and Bethlehem. I am also looking forward to meeting with representatives of the Israeli Government and the Israeli Opposition, including the new leader of the Labor Party, Avi Gabbay.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Prime Minister Hamdallah and the Palestinian Authority – his government is now 12 years into a five year term, they’re arresting anyone who opposes them and dissidents. What’s your message to them? Why should Australia support a government like that – that has become so undemocratic?

SHORTEN:  Well, first of all: I am here in support of a two-state solution. I think the right of Israelis to live within secure borders should be paramount and I also support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to have their own homeland.

I am here to hear how they think they’re going, to hear their point of view and of course as I said earlier, to visit Hebron and Bethlehem and to see what services are being provided to support refugees and others in the Palestinian territory.

JOURNALIST: What about the Labor Party’s position on recognising a Palestinian state. We’ve had six Labor conferences, territories and states, recognise this motion – pass it. Are you going to look at changing your policy on this?

SHORTEN: What I will do tomorrow is meet with the Palestinian Authority, meet with their Prime Minister, just as I will meet with Israeli representatives. The path to peace ultimately relies upon a two-state solution, that is Labor’s policy; that’s our policy from the National Conference, that’s the one which I support.

JOURNALIST: Are you aware whether the PM will meet with any of the Palestinian Authority leaders (inaudible) delayed trip. Is that a good look?

SHORTEN: Well I understand that the turmoil in Australia caused by Mr Turnbull which might interfere with his calendar here. I haven’t come to Israel or Palestine to start commenting about the Government in terms of its Middle Eastern policies.

Again, as I said earlier in this discussion, I am not here to forensically debate Australian politics. I think that when Australian leaders travel overseas, we should leave the vast bulk of the detail of domestic politics to those back in Australia.

JOURNALIST: During your meetings here, will you be raising the issue of the three sisters from Melbourne who were allegedly abused (inaudible)

SHORTEN: Yes, I hope to have further discussions with Israeli Government representatives. I think that the best way justice can be resolved is for justice to be dispensed in Australia. I think it is a very serious matter and I will be raising it with the Israeli Government.


One Response to “Q&A in Israel”
  1. david singer says:

    The following two quotes from Bill Shorten’s press conference show he is totally unaware the Palestinian Authority ceased to exist on 3 January 2013 as a result of a written decree issued by Mahmoud Abbas.

    1. SHORTEN: Well I am looking forward to meeting with the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Hamdallah …

    2. SHORTEN: What I will do tomorrow is meet with the Palestinian Authority, meet with their Prime Minister, just as I will meet with Israeli representatives.

    The reporter asking the questions wasn’t much better:
    JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Prime Minister Hamdallah and the Palestinian Authority – his government is now 12 years into a five year term, they’re arresting anyone who opposes them and dissidents.

    No wonder the Arab-Jewish conflict has raged unresolved for 100 years…

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