The Guardian • Issue #2092

Open letter to Foreign Minister Penny Wong

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2092
Penny Wong.

Penny Wong. Photo: Crawford Forum – (CC BY 2.0)

Senator the Hon. Penny Wong Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100 Senate Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

Re: Urgent call to Act against genocide.
Demand an enduring ceasefire and
the recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

Dear Minister Wong,

As Israel prepares a genocidal ground invasion on Rafah, we are deeply concerned at the ongoing violation of the human rights of citizens in Gaza and the West Bank, and breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Israel’s stated intent is to continue to defy international law and persist with its atrocities in Gaza, its displacement of Palestinians from their homeland and its further occupation and colonisation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found on 26 January 2024 that South Africa presented a plausible case that Israel had intent to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. This ruling obligates all parties to the Genocide Convention, including Australia, to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. Australia must act collectively with governments across the globe to urgently and decisively pressure Israel to end its violence and commit to a political resolution.

The ongoing shelling and blockade of the Gaza Strip by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) destruction of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, housing, water and electricity; and prevention of food and medical supplies from entering, threaten the survival of 2.3 million civilians, half of whom are children. Ongoing conflict is causing a massive escalation in civilian deaths. The humanitarian catastrophe is worsening every day in Gaza – the United Nations has described Gaza as a “graveyard for thousands of children.” One child is being killed every 10 minutes.

We are writing to urge you to call for an immediate permanent ceasefire in Gaza in line with growing international consensus and an end to the siege on humanitarian aid that is preventing children and their families from accessing food, water, and lifesaving medical supplies.

Australia must observe its obligations under International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, and call for a safe pathway for the permanent entry for humanitarian aid into Gaza to meet humanitarian needs including medical, food, and clean water supplies.

We note that after six weeks Australia finally reinstated the suspended aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The decision to suspend was wrong and we note the decision was based on still unproven accusations of the involvement by a small number of staff members in the October 7 attack on Israel, an attack that UNRWA condemned. We note also that the funding was not reinstated until several countries led the way, and eventually Australia fell in line. This has not alleviated the shame many Australians feel from how the Albanese government has acted.

Further, many Australian companies supply weapons components for arms and military hardware used by Israel against Palestinians. According to international law, it is illegal to knowingly allow weapons to go to a country or entity perpetrating war crimes.

We call upon the Albanese Government to exert all possible influence with partners towards seven life-saving outcomes:

Protection of civilians

Renewed efforts towards a long-term diplomatic solution

Officially express Australia’s support for the ICJ’s rulings

Call for an immediate unconditional, permanent ceasefire and unfettered, ongoing and sustainable humanitarian aid to be provided to Gaza

End any military support for, or contracts with Israel, including: ending Australian supplies of military equipment to Israel, e.g. provision of parts for Israel’s F-35 Joint Strike fighter plane; a halt any intelligence going to the Israeli government from the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap; expel Elbit Systems, an Israeli weapons and military equipment firm providing drones and white phosphorous to the Israeli armed forces, from Australia

Implement cultural, sporting and economic sanctions on Israel until there is an end to the brutal Israeli apartheid system in the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel

To join 139 other countries to unliterary, recognise Palestine as an independent sovereign state

Australia must not be complicit in genocide being committed by Israel in Gaza and the West Bank. Protection of civilians and alleviation of the humanitarian crisis can only be guaranteed through peace. The Australian Government must use its voice and exert its influence to seek a ceasefire – an end to the rapidly escalating conflict – as a matter of urgency.

We urge you also to listen to the people who for almost six months have been demanding an enduring ceasefire and the unilateral recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

Australia could make a difference!

Yours sincerely,

Vinnie Molina
Communist Party of Australia

20th March 2024

The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More