Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Israel-Palestine Conflict

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. I. Pnevmatikos:

That this council—

1. Notes:

(a) the Israel-Palestine conflict continues to be unresolved;

(b) Israel's occupation of Palestine has lasted over 50 years;

(c) Israel continues to build settlements on occupied territory, which undermines a two-state solution;

(d) the ongoing conflict continues to result in the loss of life and human rights violations and abuses;

(e) the recognition of Palestine by the Vatican and 138 nation states; and

(f) Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations adopts the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

2. Supports the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in equality, peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

3. Endorses the principles (1-8) stated in the Sydney Statement on Anti-Palestinianism.

4. Calls on the Australian government to:

(a) acknowledge the right of Palestinians to self-determination as provided for by international law;

(b) acknowledge the Palestinians' right to statehood; and

(c) actively promote measures to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine on the basis of relevant UN resolutions and international law.

(Continued from 2 November 2022.)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:32): I am speaking today on behalf of the Greens in support for the motion for the Australian government to address the unresolved Israel-Palestine conflict. The Palestinian war, which culminated in the establishment of the state of Israel, saw the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs and the destruction of most of their urban areas. These displaced Palestinians and now their descendants are estimated to number over four million.

Palestinian people, for decades, have been some of the most oppressed people in the world. Justice for the people of Palestine is critical to achieving just and equitable peace in the region for Palestinians and Israelis. This includes ending the over 50-year Israeli military occupation of Palestine. The ongoing escalation in violence in this region is nothing less than horrific. Defending the rights of Palestinians is not antisemitic: this is a discussion of human rights abuses, and attempts to silence this discussion seek to continue the injustices of settler colonialism.

The Greens have long worked, inside and outside the parliament, to oppose Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and recognise the historic and ongoing injustice suffered by Palestinians. There is no doubt that this is a longstanding human rights violation. In 2021, a report by the US-based Human Rights Watch found:

…in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity.

Additionally, in February this year Amnesty International released a comprehensive report titled 'Israel's apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity'. This report detailed Israel's cruel policy of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control, which amounts to apartheid under international law.

Amnesty calls on the international community's obligation to act. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, I believe, are to be heeded in this debate. To facilitate this end to the conflict, the Greens believe all sides must respect and abide by United Nations resolutions and step up to its obligations and act in line with international law and historic commitments, including the two-state solution for peace based on the pre-1967 borders and the relevant United Nations resolutions, as well as the Madrid Principles and the Arab Peace initiative.

There is no peace without justice, and there is no two-state solution without the recognition of those two states. With that, I conclude my remarks and commend the mover for bringing the motion to this place, and indicate I will not be supporting the amendment that is anticipated.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:35): I also rise to put on the public record my support for this very important motion, and I thank the honourable member for putting it forward. I certainly reiterate the comments made by my colleague, the Hon. Tammy Franks. Yesterday marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The Greens stand in solidarity alongside the people of Palestine and have continually called for an end to Israeli occupation. There are over 600,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land, and, as the motion states, this occupation has occurred over 50 years.

According to Amnesty International, over a hundred thousand hectares of land have been occupied by Israel, with over 4.9 million Palestinians facing daily restrictions on their movement. The Greens believe that human rights need to be at the forefront of foreign policy. Palestinians are being denied their basic rights, as they are unable to move freely to work, to be educated or to protest, and in some cases they are unable to even access clean water and electricity.

Violent attacks on the people of Palestine, their places and their cultural sites are devastating. Over the last 50 years, we have seen surges of violence related to the occupation. Last year saw the highest number of Palestinian deaths resulting from confrontations with Israel since 2014. The Greens oppose violence in any form and we call for an end to all violence in Palestine. We demand an immediate end to the occupation and call on Israel to withdraw its military presence.

Both Israelis and Palestinians should be able to live in peace and security. Just as Israelis are entitled to their own state and to live in peace and security, so too are Palestinians. The United Nations Secretary-General has recommended that Israel immediately cease all settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, and the Greens support that. The Greens will be supporting this motion, to add our voice to the calls to end the conflict in Palestine, and, as indicated by my colleague, we will not be supporting One Nation's amendments.

The Hon. C. BONAROS (16:38): I rise too to speak on this important motion, which again draws our attention to the continued human rights abuses being inflicted on the Palestinian people, and I also echo the sentiments of our colleagues, the Hon. Tammy Franks and the Hon. Robert Simms, and commend the mover of this motion.

I think, like many people, I had hoped that the events that we have spoken of before in this place of May 2021 would have been a catalyst for change, but from all accounts we know that life is becoming deadlier in the occupied West Bank. According to the United Nations, it is becoming unlivable for Palestinians.

In 2018, we know one in five Palestinians were food insecure. In 2021, that number doubled to two in five. The destruction of essential infrastructure, which I have spoken of before in this place, has caused serious health consequences for Palestinian people. Limits on water access are discriminatory. Whereas Israeli settlers have access to 320 litres per capita per day, Palestinians can only access 75 to 100 litres per capita per day in areas A and B and as little as 30 to 50 litres in area C. Following those attacks that I referred to in May 2021, the rate of poverty was predicted to rise to 59.3 per cent. Many of these people, of course, were women who face social barriers and lack of employment opportunities.

Violence against women and girls, sadly, continues to be rife and, as the recent report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, highlights—and I quote:

Reports have emphasised that women and girls continue to be subjected to excessive use of force and abuse by the Israeli security forces and settlers, including physical, psychological and verbal abuse and sexual harassment and violation of their right to life.

Harassment and abuse of Palestinian women and girls by the Israeli security forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been reported at checkpoints and on the way to and from school and work.

Sexual and gender-based violence has also been reported in detention and during night raids.

Reports indicate that women and girls have been particularly targeted by settlers in the West Bank, including when the male members of their family are absent.

The systemic denial of medical permits is yet another human rights abuse being inflicted on the Palestinian people. Travel permits are repeatedly rejected for months at a time, including for those seeking vital life-saving medical treatment. When they are finally issued, companion permits are routinely denied meaning that cancer patients, for instance, must undergo therapy alone—that is if they are even fit enough to travel by the time that a permit arrives. There are reports that medical permits are being used as a bargaining chip in exchange for cooperation with intelligence services.

Another worrying development is the increased reliance on remotely-controlled weapons by the Israeli military. Israel has been manufacturing and using drone technology for years. It is now becoming commonplace for soldiers to sit inside a guard tower and fire weapons with tear gas at targets remotely. In the last 12 hours it has been reported that a number of killings have occurred overnight, and this is a daily occurrence, and life is absolutely unliveable for the Palestinian people. Who knows what is next?

I could talk for hours in terms of highlighting the inequalities and issues, as we all could, that the Palestinian face, but I think it is important that we show our solidarity for this motion today. On Sunday I attended the Run for Palestine event, an annual event that takes place across the nation each year. It was nice to attend and participate after a forced break because of COVID. I spoke at that event and reflected on a motion that we all supported unanimously in this place during the last sitting week. That motion was moved by the Hon. Tung Ngo and it concerned the recent detention and tragic death of Jinna Amini and the disproportionate attacks on ethnic minorities under the Iranian regime.

I reflected on that motion specifically because at its heart was the very same sentiment that we paused to reflect on at that Run for Palestine, and the very same sentiment that we pause to reflect on here today with this motion: freedom, human rights, civil liberties and justice. I spoke of being both humbled and honoured to stand shoulder to shoulder with all my brothers and sisters who fight every day for these principles, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of Sunday's participants in support of our Palestinian brothers and sisters here and in Palestine, and to use the platform we all have, the very special privilege of using in this place, to do whatever we can to further this important cause.

It is my sincere hope that one day soon, hopefully sooner rather than later, we as members of this place will come together as one, unanimously and with the same conviction, supporting the rights of the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination, to national independence, statehood and sovereignty, to the right to return to their homes from which they have been displaced, to enjoy the same liberties and freedoms we all enjoy, to equal rights for all regardless of their nationality, their religion or race, and supporting, again unequivocally, the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in equality, peace and security equally.

We do really good work in this place, I think, when we stand united on issues as important as the motion that the Hon. Tung Ngo moved in this place that we all spoke on the other week, and we would do amazingly good work if we all stood shoulder to shoulder and united in supporting the motion that the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos has brought to this place.

I will end by saying that I do not think we should ever underestimate just how important a platform we have in terms of speaking on these issues and in progressing the plight of the Palestinian people and issues just as important as this one.

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:45): While I share some of the views espoused in the original motion moved by honourable member, I cannot in good conscience support it in full. It reads as divisive and I query with whom the mover has consulted and based her research on. I, therefore, seek to amend the motion, which has been circulated. I move:

Leave out all words after 'That this council' and insert the following:

1. Notes that the Australian government is committed to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict;

2. Calls on both sides to resume direct negotiations in good faith;

3. Calls on the commonwealth government to recognise the state of Palestine once the two sides have successfully negotiated a two-state solution, as required by international law as set out in the Oslo Accords; and

4. Expresses support to members of the South Australian Palestinian community who have been part of our rich cultural and religious tapestry for at least 70 years and acknowledge the pain and grief of all South Australian Palestinians arising from conflict, recognising that this grief affects Palestinians of all faiths and those not religious.

My amendment seeks to strike a balance between what are often characterised as competing and conflicting interests in this debate. At the heart of this matter, and what I do not believe is a conflicting interest here, is that whether you identify as Israeli, Palestinian, Arab or otherwise, peace and security is our ultimate goal.

As a One Nation member of the South Australian Legislative Council, I am realistic about what can be achieved in this chamber through my contribution and wish to contain my remarks as much as possible to the impacts of this ongoing conflict to South Australians. I want to acknowledge at the outset that I, like I believe most in this place, do not profess to be an expert in this long-running and challenging international dispute. I am instead reliant on those who I have consulted with and the readings that have helped me be informed on this issue.

I would particularly like to thank Mr Ahmed Zreika, President of the Islamic Society of South Australia and a respected Muslim leader, who I have had ongoing discussions with over the last few months. His biography is a shining example of the sorts of positive contributions our society is richer for thanks to his deep involvement in the community, sport and in business, following his arrival to Australia in 2003 from Lebanon.

Members who have sat longer in this place than I may be familiar with my amended motion. Then Legislative Councillor Andrew McLachlan CSC sought to pursue a compromise in the Fifty-Third Parliament of South Australia, which is substantially the same as the amendment I have put here. Now Senator McLachlan was successful in passing his motion, and I am hoping to replicate that in our Fifty-Fifth Parliament with the addition of paragraph 4. This paragraph bears repeating:

4. Expresses support to members of the South Australian Palestinian community who have been part of our rich cultural and religious tapestry for at least 70 years and acknowledge the pain and grief of all South Australian Palestinians arising from conflict, recognising that this grief affects Palestinians of all faiths and those not religious.

One Nation does not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnic background, nor faith or lack of. We welcome those who wish to call Australia home and seek to contribute positively to our society. The migration of Palestinians to our shores is not only as a result of conflicts abroad. Palestinian migrants have a long history in South Australia, with an immigrant named Hassam Bushara believed to be one of our earliest arrivals. He arrived in Port Adelaide as a young man in 1908. People of Palestinian birth have continued to arrive in South Australia ever since.

Contemporary Palestinian immigrants come here for education and career opportunities as much as for our democratic and peaceful way of life. They are members of our Muslim constituency and have established a close-knit community for those of the Orthodox Church of Antioch. Palestinian South Australians have settled throughout metropolitan Adelaide and are also seeking to take advantage of the skills shortage in our regions, seizing skilled and professional opportunities and contributing positively to our country communities.

There is perhaps no better recognised contemporary Palestinian migrant than Fred Shahin, whose journey began here in 1984 with a humble service station in Woodville Park. This has grown to become an entity that is now South Australia's largest private company, employing over 3,500 people. I admire his work ethic and share the ideals of empathy and opportunity for all without discrimination, as espoused in the company's values statement.

One Nation believes that everyone who moves to Australia has the right to exist in peace, cohesively and with shared values of democracy and equality. My amendment seeks to remove divisiveness and insert relevance for our South Australian Palestinian community, without wading into the confronting, contentious and complex issues in the Middle East.

Israel is not a perfect democracy. It is, however, one that is vibrant, innovative, prosperous and operates under the rule of law. I echo the beliefs of Senator McLachlan when he said in this place over five years ago:

…for Israel to have security, it needs a viable Palestinian state—a Palestinian state that recognises Israel and rejects violence against the Jewish people, where trust exists between the two peoples.

I share his dream of seeing a Palestinian state that is cooperative and collaborative with its neighbour Israel—a state that has democratically elected leaders, respects the rule of law, rejects terrorism and promotes religious tolerance.

It is for the commonwealth government to dictate foreign policy and there has been a longstanding agreement, both within and outside of Australia, that the two-state solution ought to be pursued. My wish, as it is, for all members here is for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine in the Middle East. I support the imperative to remove the daily toll of grief and despair arising from witnessing these events from afar. As a community, we must do everything in our power to create the conditions for a just resolution and ultimately replace that suffering with hope.

With those words, I ask that you consider favourably my amendment, which I believe can be supported in this chamber.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (16:52): I rise on behalf of the Liberal Party to speak on the motion moved by the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos regarding the Israel and Palestine conflict. The unresolved Israel-Palestine conflict continues to be a major concern and is very upsetting for those who are directly or indirectly affected. It is important to, firstly, acknowledge that all honourable members in this place will respectfully express our support to advocate for the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in equality, peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

After much consideration and discussion with my parliamentary colleagues, I wish to indicate that the Liberal Party will be supporting the amended motion moved by the Hon. Sarah Game MLC. We believe the amendments by the honourable member should be considered in good faith, in the spirit of goodwill and respect to the many diverse communities in South Australia who are deeply impacted in different ways by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The longstanding position of the federal government has been to support a two-state solution to the conflict and to strongly call on both sides to cease any hostilities and violence and to resume direct negotiations in good faith. The South Australian Liberal Party firmly believes that all parties must focus on direct and genuine peace negotiations, with a view to defining a mutually workable, just, durable and resilient peace agreement. It is important to remind honourable members that despite the recent change of federal government, the Albanese Labor government remains committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist in peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

Over the years, I have spoken to many constituents and community leaders from diverse multicultural groups about this complex issue. I believe the most important thing that we can do as South Australian parliamentarians is to continue to understand the concerns and continue to work with local community members, as well as the international community, to support programs that will encourage peace in the region.

With this in mind, on this side of the chamber we commend the Hon. Sarah Game for including the final clause in her amendment to support members of the South Australian Palestinian community. We would like to confirm our support of members of the South Australian Palestinian community, to recognise the pain, frustration and grief that they feel as a result of the ongoing conflict. We want to acknowledge that the Palestinian community has been an important part of our rich cultural and religious tapestry for at least 70 years, and we also acknowledge their significant contribution to our society in all aspects of our diverse society.

We extend our sympathies to all those families and loved ones who are traumatised and affected by the conflict and acknowledge their grave concerns about the frequent reports of violence and human rights abuses in the region. I wish to acknowledge and thank all the community leaders and organisations who persistently advocate for peace, respect and dignity for the Palestinian people, and I want to assure the community of the goodwill expressed by all honourable members in the chamber today.

The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (16:55): I would like to thank members who contributed to the discussion on this motion: the Hon. Tammy Franks, the Hon. Robert Simms, the Hon. Connie Bonaros, the Hon. Sarah Game and the Hon. Jing Lee.

This motion focuses on conflict in the region of Israel and Palestine. It has been raging since before our lifetimes and, unfortunately, I fear it will continue until after some of our lifetimes. The occupation of Palestine by Israel has been in the international public eye for the better part of 50 years and continues to date, with disastrous casualties to civilians and fighters alike. Israel continues to build settlements on occupied territory, further undermining any endeavours for a solution.

International law dictates that occupation of this territory is illegal and against agreed United Nations conventions and articles. Numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions and the prevailing international opinion hold that Israel's settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights are a violation of international law. Further, they are a violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention, the law of occupation. International bodies working on the ground in these areas, including the Red Cross and the International Court of Justice, have all affirmed that article 49 applies to the Israeli-occupied territories.

As with most conflicts, repeated attacks on civilians that violate not only human rights but human decency and ethics appear to be a feature of this conflict. This conflict has been going on long enough for us to recognise the injustice unfolding. The reports of human rights violations and abuse keep piling up. It is time that we stand up for what is right and, as a chamber, call on the federal government to do the same. As I have said before, this motion is not about antisemitism, it is not about anti-Israel. This motion is about recognising two peoples' rights to coexist and prosper.

In relation to the amendment by the Hon. Sarah Game, I will not be supporting it because to support that amendment is to erase my motion. I am not prepared to do that.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that paragraphs 1 to 4 as proposed to be struck out by the Hon. Ms Game stand as part of the motion. If you support the Hon. Ms Game you will vote no to that proposition. If you are against the amendment you will vote yes.

The council divided on the question:

Ayes 11

Noes 6

Majority 5


Bonaros, C. Bourke, E.S. Franks, T.A.
Hunter, I.K. Maher, K.J. Martin, R.B.
Ngo, T.T. Pangallo, F. Pnevmatikos, I. (teller)
Simms, R.A. Wortley, R.P.


Centofanti, N.J. Curran, L.A. Game, S.L. (teller)
Girolamo, H.M. Lee, J.S. Wade, S.G.


Hanson, J.E. Lensink, J.M.A. Scriven, C.M.
Hood, D.G.E.

Question thus agreed to; motion carried.