From a young age, my upbringing caused me to know that the Jews have historically been a much persecuted people. For this reason, I've always supported the right of a Jewish state to exist. However, I've become increasingly concerned about the hostilities in the Israeli-occupied territories, as well as the lack of progress being made for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Palestinians, too, have the right to exist and enjoy statehood. Last month I had the privilege of visiting Palestine as part of a cross-party delegation led by the member for Calwell.
For the most part, the visit centred around the Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine and the need for greater efforts by the international community to break the stalemate in the peace process.
Entering Palestine via Jericho, I saw the profound impact that the settlements were having on local Palestinian communities, including critical elements concerning access to water, land, roads, infrastructure and their effect on local economies. Apart from being significant violations of internationally recognised human rights, these issues are an affront to humanity.
My visit to Palestine reinforced the need for a renewed commitment to security. Recognition of Palestine is not a rejection of Israel but rather a recognition of the rights of the people of both Israel and Palestine to live in peace.
During my visit, I had the opportunity of speaking to Breaking The Silence. This organisation comprises former military members of the Israeli Defence Force who served in the occupied territories. It offered a confronting perspective of the methods and rules of engagement of the IDF, including the strong relationship between settlers and the members of the IDF in the West Bank.
I was told that Israeli settlers are regularly involved in operational activities that involve carrying out violence against Palestinians and their properties. These courageous Israelis who spoke out did so because they are patriots. We must continue to ensure that the plight of Palestinians remains firmly in the focus of the international community.
CHRIS HAYES, Fowler MP
Recognition of Palestine is not a rejection of Israel but rather a recognition of the rights of the people to live in peace.CHRIS HAYES