Yesterday the Australian Parliament passed a Motion congratulating Israel on its 60-year anniversary. It was all rather low-profile but why it was done remains somewhat of a mystery. Given Israel's appalling record on human rights in relation to its Arab citizens, the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, the dropping of cluster bombs in southern Lebanon in 2006 and flagrant breaches of international law and UN resolutions, both the Government and Opposition stand sorely condemned for even considering the Motion as appropriate.
Some pieces reflecting on the Motion and the position of the Palestinians:
- In a piece "A Matter of Time" in New Matilda, Bill Parry writes:
"Rahmeh al Qassas, a 73-year-old Palestinian refugee from Deheishe Camp, on the outskirts of Bethlehem, points to a small area of cultivated land below. "It's very lonely," she says, squinting in the midday sun. "No people, no homes." Distant memories and the present collide. Her four-year-old grandson, Odeh, holds her hand and looks on silently.
It's the first time she has revisited this spot, where her family sheltered in a makeshift home under a fig tree during the summer and autumn of 1948. Like hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, they were fleeing the Israeli Hagana military campaign - which many today, including many revisionist Israeli historians, regard as a campaign of ethnic cleansing. More than 500 Palestinian towns and villages were ruthlessly and systematically emptied of their inhabitants and occupied. The fig tree is now gone but almond trees with their beautiful white blossoms are in full bloom around us."
- Sonja Karkar and Amin Abbas, also writing in New Matilda "Sixty Years of Friendship and Displacement"
"Every Australian ought to be asking why our Government feels so humiliatingly obligated to Israel that they must go to these lengths to show their friendship with a country that consistently violates international law, United Nations resolutions and human rights conventions?
This year marks 60 years of Palestinian dispossession and displacement and a savage, relentless occupation. Palestinians are starving in Gaza. Palestinians are being sold out in the West Bank. Palestinians are dying. Their very existence is under threat. It is as simple and as awful as that.
Those Palestinians living inside Israel have reached the status of second-class citizens, disadvantaged in education, health and economic opportunity. Called "Israeli Arabs", they are also subjected to discriminatory restrictions, and many neighbourhoods in their own nation are considered off-limits to them as owners or residents.
For those Palestinians living in the West Bank, restrictions on movement and access to water and land confiscation by a State seeking to accommodate Jewish settlers are all daily realities. And let's not be fooled by talk of the Palestinian Authority, which lacks true authority and control while the occupation continues."
- heraldsun.com.au reports:
"A Liberal backbencher today noted the "legitimate aspirations" of Palestinians, hours after federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson helped mark Israel's 60th anniversary.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, supported by Dr Nelson, led the celebrations of Israel's creation despite objections from at least one Labor MP and several unions.
New South Wales Liberal MP Sussan Ley said 2679 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip since September 2000, including 1259 who were not participating in hostilities and 567 children.
"Israel has many friends in this country and in this Parliament, the Palestinians, by comparison, have few," Ms Ley told the House of Representatives."