Thursday, 30 November 2023
Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
I present the report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories on 16 to 21 July 2023. It was my privilege to lead this parliamentary delegation, which also comprised the honourable member for Bonner as the deputy leader, the honourable member for Higgins, the honourable member for Goldstein and the honourable member for Hasluck.
The delegation was keen to develop parliament-to-parliament relationships and to gain a better understanding of the situation on the ground in relation to the systems and authority of government and the parliaments of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Israel, the delegation met with parliamentarians, representatives of business and community groups, government officials, journalists and academics in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the southern city of Be'er Sheva.
This was the first time an Australian Speaker had led such a high-level delegation to Israel. The delegation was pleased to contribute to the valuable relationships that Australia has with Israel and to exchange views on matters of common interest, including innovation, technology, business, trade and security.
In Ramallah, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the delegation met with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr Mohammad Shtayyeh, and the minister for foreign affairs, Mr Riyadh al-Maliki. We had constructive discussions about issues in the region, including supporting democracy and credible elections, Australia's development in humanitarian assistance and international law.
In Sheikh Jarrah, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the delegation welcomed the opportunity to tour facilities and meet with doctors and staff of the St John Eye Hospital, which is assisted by Australia through the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Overall, the parliamentary delegation gave all the delegates greater insight into the current political, social and economic issues faced by Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It was extremely valuable to delegation members to hear the perspectives of people, including parliamentarians, officials, experts and citizens, on a variety of pressing and important issues.
Finally, I wish to record our appreciation of the work that went into preparing for the visit, including the arrangements made by the Australian parliament's International and Parliamentary Relations Office, and by officials from the Knesset and the Palestinian Authority. The hospitality we were shown by our overseas parliamentary counterparts is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Australia's diplomatic representatives in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories for their work in developing the programs and the excellent support during this visit. I commend the report to the House.