Mr HAWKE (Prime Minister) —by leave-I move:
That this House-
(1) resolves that United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 (XXX) which equates Zionism with racism-
(a) has been unhelpful in the context of the search for a settlement in the Middle East;
(b) is inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) remains unacceptable as a misrepresentation of Zionism;
(d) has served to escalate religious animosity and incite anti-semitism, and
(2) recommends that the Government lend support to efforts to overturn Resolution 3379 (XXX) in the United Nations.
A motion in identical terms is being introduced in the Senate by my colleague the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button). I have moved this motion from a conviction, which I believe will be shared by all Australians who value truth, fairness and tolerance, that the equation of zionism with racism is profoundly wrong, disruptive and unacceptable. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted in 1975, which sought to make this equation, has been regarded by successive Australian governments as unacceptable. In moving this motion in the Parliament the Government hopes for bipartisan support so that the voice of Australia can be added to the voices of others in the international community who wish to see this deeply regrettable expression of United Nations opinion overturned.
To suggest that zionism is racism is, first of all, a blatant distortion of the truth. This is not the place to give a history of the development of zionism. I would, however, refer all honour- able members who wish to inform themselves on this subject to the outstanding address by my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) to the Zionist Federation of Australia on 13 April under the title: `Israel: A Contemporary Democratic Socialist Perspective’. In that address the Foreign Minister outlined the idealism and the enlightened emancipatory principles which went into the foundation of the state of Israel. As well, he referred to the terrible impact of the Holocaust on the zionist movement. In the month in which the award to Elie Wiesel of the Nobel Peace Prize has reminded us all of the monstrous racial oppression suffered by the Jewish people less than 50 years ago, the characterisation of zionism as racism is a particular offence to decency and to logic, not only to our Jewish community but to all Australians. Apart from its distortion of reality, Resolution 3379 has become an obstacle to the search for a settlement in the Middle East, difficult as that already is. In a region where insecurity and suspicion are strong, where barriers between peoples have proved difficult to break down, it is highly counter-productive to insult the guiding philosophy of a people, especially one whose consciousness has been seared by the scourge of anti-semitism.
Resolution 3379 has not advanced the interests of those who promoted it. It has done nothing to solve the plight of the Palestinian people. Successive Australian governments have believed that there can be no peace in the Middle East until the Palestinian problem is resolved justly and peacefully and with the agreement of all those involved. This Government’s support for the overturning of Resolution 3379 is based on our continued desire to see a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the Middle East dispute. Diversions such as Resolution 3379 served only to distract and disrupt efforts towards this end. The resolution has done very real damage to the relations between states. It has also harmed the credibility and reputation of the United Nations. The United Nations was intended to promote peace and harmony between the peoples of the world. It has the primary task of maintaining international peace and also pursues the goal of encouraging respect for human rights. Resolution 3379 was clearly not an attempt to further those purposes and principles. It had the effect of unfairly isolating a member state of the United Nations and, in so doing, was contrary to the spirit of the United Nations Charter.
There is no country which is more committed to upholding the reputation and effectiveness of the United Nations than Australia. Our performance as a member of the Security Council over the past two years is the most recent evidence of this commitment. Along with other countries, we have fought to maintain international support, including, very importantly, financial support, for the United Nations and its specialised agencies-the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and others. Our task has been made immeasurably more difficult in view of the disaffection felt for the United Nations in recent years by such countries as the United States of America. The passage of Resolution 3379 was an important factor in producing this disaffection.
Over the past two years or so, increasing international attention has been given to the question of removing this unacceptable resolution from the United Nations record. President Chaim Herzog, the widely respected President of Israel, who will pay a state visit to Australia next month, has been a leading figure in this process. The Australian Jewish community has consulted closely with the Government, particularly the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the matter in recent months in order to determine what influence Australia might bring to bear. Realistically, we must acknowledge that it would be counter-productive to initiate a move in the United Nations at this stage to overturn Resolution 3379. There still would not be the support necessary to ensure the success of such a move. Indeed, the opposite result might be achieved: Countries which may have come to question their original position on the resolution might be forced once again to line up behind it. Nevertheless, the world political climate is changing and there are grounds for belief that an expression of the Australian Parliament’s view along the lines I have outlined could contribute to that change.
In taking this step it is, I believe, important to emphasise that the Australian Government’s position on the Middle East remains unchanged. As I have indicated, we believe that a resolution of the Palestinian question is central to any Middle East settlement. The Government acknowledges the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people, including the right, if they so choose, to independence and the possibility of establishing their own independent state. We recognise that whatever arrangements are finally settled upon will depend on decisions involving the participation and agreement of all parties concerned. We remain fundamentally committed to the security of Israel and its right to exist within secure and recognised boundaries in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. It is in the interests of helping to achieve a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the Middle East dispute, one which has the acceptance of all sides, that I commend the motion I have introduced to the House.