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Speech: Free Palestine

Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (19:29): Tonight marks the end of the month of Ramadan, when millions of Muslims across the world fast. This is a month of reflection, charity and spiritual connection. Now we celebrate Eid Mubarak. As I wish Eid Mubarak, I know that so many Muslims around the world are suffering. In India and the subcontinent, COVID-19 continues to ravage our communities. Elsewhere, Kashmiris, Uighurs and Palestinians are suffering under oppression.

I rise tonight to express my solidarity with the Palestinian people who, for generations, have had to pay the price of settler colonialism taking their land, homes and lives. My heart goes out to the Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem who are facing forced expulsions under threat of violence by Israeli authorities. My thoughts are with the 200 Palestinians who were injured on Friday evening, after Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan. It was a brazen attack on one of our most significant spiritual places. What is happening in Palestine is part of a broader spectrum destroying the strength, lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian people. There are over 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem alone. Attacks on cultural sites are war crimes. Israeli authorities continue to act in clear defiance of international law. This never was and never will be okay.

We must all speak up against the ongoing violence Israel has been perpetrating against the Palestinian people for decades, including in recent days. Silence in the face of the persecution, dispossession and displacement of Palestinians is not an option. To stay neutral or to use weak both-sides language is to choose the side of the oppressor. It's not enough to be shocked by Israel's settler colonial violence against Palestinians. Everyone, particularly politicians, has a responsible to speak out and demand that we free Palestine.

A recent Human Rights Watch report found that Israeli authorities have been persecuting Palestinians with oppressive policies that amount to apartheid. The report states that Palestinians have been dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated and subjugated by virtue of their identity. How much longer must Palestinians be subjected to such oppression? For too long, Israel's gross human rights abuses and violations have been ignored by the international community. Palestinians are resilient people who continue to resist the ongoing attempts to remove the memory of Palestine.

The decision to violently expel Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah has sparked well-justified anger and outrage in the community. They have delayed the evictions—proof that Palestinians will not give up the struggle until they see a free Palestine. Shamefully, the state-sanctioned violence goes on. On Tuesday, the Israeli Air Force renewed its attacks on occupied Gaza. The bombing claimed the lives of at least 29 Palestinians including nine children, and injured 115 others.

As Israel's violence has reached new heights, the freedom movement has been reawakened. Raiding Palestinian homes and sacred places of worship has shown the world, yet again, how shameless Israel is. Today all eyes are on Palestine. The Sheikh Jarrah evictions must not go ahead. Israel's state sanctioned, apartheid violence against protesters must end, and the occupation with it.

The Australian government has proved again and again that it is unwilling to oppose or be critical of Israel's government. We have heard no condemnation of the government of Israel's attacks on Sheikh Jarrah residents and the Al-Aqsa mosque. It is time to speak up. Australia must show solidarity with the Palestinians. This week we commemorate the Nakba when, on 15 May 1948, hundreds of Palestinian villages were destroyed and over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and made refugees. I urge you to join a rally on Saturday to mark Al Nakba wherever you live.

The Greens express our utmost solidarity with the people of Palestine and their struggle. I will always, unapologetically and unashamedly, stand for human rights against occupation and in favour of Palestinian rights to self-determination. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.


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