Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)
Parliament House, Canberra
11 February 2014
I rise on indulgence to affirm the words of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on the passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. I was honoured to represent the Australian government at a memorial service for Ariel Sharon at the Knesset on 13 January and at his burial service at the Sharon family farm in Negev. I extended our deep condolences to Ariel Sharon's family, to the President and Prime Minister of Israel, and to the Israeli people on the passing of a man who dedicated his life to the nation of Israel. As United States Vice-President Biden remarked during the memorial service, Ariel Sharon was a complex man who engendered strong views across the globe about his commitment and passion, his opinions and his work. But, Vice President Biden observed, like all leaders who make their mark on history, Ariel Sharon had a north star that guided him – and that was the survival of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Throughout decades of service to the Israeli people, Ariel Sharon remained deeply committed to safeguarding Israel's security and prosperity.
Australia remains firmly committed to Israel's right to exist in peace within secure and internationally recognised borders as much as we are committed to the two-state solution, which recognises a state for the Palestinian people where they too can live in peace and prosperity behind internationally recognised borders. We support resumed final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. We welcome the strong leadership shown by United States Secretary of State Kerry in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians to the table to find a negotiated political solution to the most contentious issues – including the final boundaries and status of settlements, refugees, Israel's security and the city of Jerusalem – in order to reach a just and lasting two-state solution. This is the only path to realising Ariel Sharon's enduring vision for a secure and prosperous Israel for generations to come. Australia joins with our friends in Israel in mourning the death of Ariel Sharon.
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