Motion- Middle East Conflict

17 Oct 2023

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I rise to speak on behalf of the Victorian Greens to the motion put forward by the Premier. Ten days ago we all watched – the world watched – in horror at the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, which saw innocent unarmed Israeli citizens killed and taken hostage, people attacked in their homes and children and families killed. What was particularly shocking was the massacre at the Supernova music festival, a rave party with young people – some of them peace activists, coming together, as so many young people around the world do, in what is a global community: the dance music industry – targeted, with hundreds killed. Overall it was the biggest loss of Jewish life in a day since the Holocaust. Whether they are seen on their own or in a wider context, these events are shocking, they are unjustifiable and they are to be condemned without qualification. We join with the calls for the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas.

We are also now watching a humanitarian catastrophe unfold in Palestine, with water, food and power being denied to civilians; mass displacement; hospitals on the brink of shutdown; sick and injured unable to evacuate at risk of death; and attacks by the Israel military claiming the lives of Palestinian civilians. We call for a ceasefire. We call for an end to the war in Gaza so the lives of even more civilians are not claimed.

At home I know this conflict is of grave concern to so many here in Victoria, particularly those who have families, friends or compatriots in Israel and in Palestine. We are deeply disturbed by the vile acts of antisemitism, of bigotry and of hate that have occurred recently – particularly by a report of one occurring in my own electorate. There is no place for this. We pride ourselves on being a tolerant multicultural state, but this demonstrates the need for this sort of hate and extremism to be tackled head-on here in Victoria with bold, multifaceted and immediate action, something that we the Greens have been very vocal on.

Now to the motion before us. We do recognise that this is a sensitive time, and we are disappointed that the government did not adhere to what it originally told us, which was that this would be a shorter motion and allow contributions to speak for themselves and that we would be provided with a copy last week. Indeed we were only provided with a copy last night. With that said, we are supportive of the vast majority of this motion. But where the Greens disagree with this motion is that Israel’s right to defend itself must be within the parameters of international humanitarian law, which we do not believe is being adhered to in the current conflict. As a party with peace and non-violence as one of its core pillars, I move the following amendment, consistent with my federal colleagues and other Greens around Australia, and I ask that that amendment be circulated in my name:

That paragraph (2) be omitted and replaced with the following paragraph:

‘(2) condemns war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel, including the bombing of Palestinian civilians and calls for an immediate ceasefire between all parties and an end to the war on Gaza, recognising also that for there be peace there must be an end to the state of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories;’.

Whilst we may have differences on this motion, when I think of the community more broadly here in Victoria – Jewish and Muslim communities – and in Australia and indeed the international community I honestly see more that unites us than divides us; that there is the right for Israeli and Palestinian people to live in peace and security but the need for all people to have their inalienable human rights upheld; that international humanitarian law must be followed in any conflict, including laws against targeting of civilians and against collective punishment; that governments must recommit to long-lasting peace for Israel and Palestine and that that can only be achieved through an end to occupation and the creation of a viable and democratic independent Palestinian state; and that antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of bigotry have no place in this country or anywhere for that matter. I call on Parliament to uphold these values, and the Greens would support through leave or any other means a moment’s silence for all victims.

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