SENATOR MITCH FIFIELD
Interview with SBS News Melbourne
Rally for Israel & Peace
Parliament House, Melbourne
4 January 2009
E & OE
SUBJECTS: Israel / Gaza
Today there was the first ground invasion in Gaza. What do you think about the way things are moving along and progressing?
SENATOR MITCH FIFIELD:
I think the important thing to bear in mind is that Israel wasn’t occupying Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Despite that, Israel has been subject to 3,000 missiles in 2008 alone. So the Government of Israel has every right to defend its citizens. It’s the basic obligation of any government. What we hope for is a sustainable ceasefire. Not a one-sided ceasefire that just sees more rockets land on Israel but a sustainable ceasefire that sees an end to civilian deaths on both sides of the border.
How likely do you think a ceasefire is to come any time soon though?
Well I hope it comes very soon. Hamas need to realise that they can’t get away with firing missiles into Israel and Hamas also need to realise that it’s entirely wrong for them to hide their own weapons in civilian population centres which leads to the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza. So Hamas need to realise that they’ve got to stop the rockets and that Israel does have the right to live in peace with its neighbours.
Israel’s offensive has obviously been on a much larger scale than the rocket fire that’s been coming in to Israel. There’s been a lot of international criticism. How do you feel about the current international criticism?
There’s a lot of talk of proportionality. But what does that mean? Does that mean that Israel should fire old missiles randomly at population centres? I think that’s an absurd proposition. The Government of Israel has the right to defend its citizens and to use sufficient force to stop the rockets coming from Gaza.
What about the Australian Government stance on the matter?
Well the Government and the Opposition, of which I’m a member, are as one on this issue. That is that Hamas need to stop firing weapons into Israel and that Israel has every right to defend itself. And we hope that there is a sustainable cessation to hostilities very soon.