Thursday, 7 December 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Foreign Minister. Minister, today we woke to confirmation that Donald Trump has announced that the US will recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is a body blow for the peace process and for the Palestinian people. It's deeply unfair and dangerous. It's been universally condemned by everyone except for the far right in the United States, a few loose cannons to my left and, of course, Israel. Minister, does the Turnbull government agree that this move by Mr Trump is damaging to the prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine?
Senator Di Natale, thank you for asking a serious question. Let me outline the position of the Australian government in relation to President Trump's announcement: the Australian government has never supported unilateral action on either side and believes both sides must come together to negotiate a solution, which includes the status of Jerusalem. The Australian government will continue our diplomatic representation to Israel from our embassy in Tel Aviv and our representation to the Palestinian Authority from our office in Ramallah. We have no plans to move our embassy to Jerusalem.
The political identification of Jerusalem is subject to final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Australia supports a two-state solution where both Israel and a future Palestinian state exists side by side in peace and security within internationally recognised borders. We continue to call on both sides to return to negotiations as soon as possible. Australia is deeply concerned about the level of tension in the region and the potential for violence. We understand that this is a sensitive and emotive issue. We have not told the United States that we support the decision. Washington is aware that Australia has a longstanding policy about the location of Australia's embassy in Tel Aviv, and we will continue our diplomatic representation to Israel from our embassy in Tel Aviv.
World leaders have been universally appalled by this move. Germany has said these types of policies are why US and European ties are starting to crumble. Theresa May has said she'll be calling Donald Trump to discuss the issue. Turkey has said there could be irreversible consequences. Sweden has called the decision 'catastrophic'. Australia, on the other hand, has said that this is a matter for the US. Given your answer, Minister, will you be expressing your concerns publicly through a public statement?
Senator Di Natale, the foreign policy of the Australian government is as stated publicly by the foreign minister and of course by the Prime Minister I represent. And I represent the foreign minister in this chamber as you know, and the statement that I've just given you is a statement that comes from the foreign minister.
The Greens have consistently expressed concerns about our alliance with the US. But now under Donald Trump, it looks like we are hitched to an ally that's a danger to Australia and to the rest of the world. Minister, your government refused to act when Donald Trump goaded the North Koreans or when he pulled out of the Paris climate agreement. Minister, isn't it time for a fundamental reassessment of our relationship with the US?
It is the clear and firm view of the Australian government, which I understand to be shared on both sides of politics, that the Australian-American alliance is the foundation of our strategic security, and that will continue. It will continue whether there is a Republican or a Democratic administration in the United States. It will continue whether there is a coalition or a Labor Party administration in Australia. That is not to say that there will not be occasions on which Australia and the United States disagree. This is such an occasion on which we do disagree. Australia will maintain its representation to Israel in Tel Aviv. We think that is appropriate. I've indicated to you the ways in which the Australian government considers the final status of Jerusalem ought to be resolved. But that difference, notwithstanding, does not affect one iota the centrality of the Australian-American relationship.