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Australia Offering Assistance for Palestinian Authority Reform

Another $10 million in humanitarian assistance for Gaza has recently been announced by the Australian government.

The Australian government is willing to support a Palestinian Authority with reforms so it can operate as a state alongside Israel.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has asked her department to investigate Australia’s potential role in helping the Palestinian Authority with governance.

During a Foreign Affairs Senate Estimates committee, Queensland Senator Nita Green noted the Palestine representative in Australia is seeking the country’s support in carrying out reforms.

She asked Ms. Wong, “Is Australia open to providing this type of support?”

In response, Ms. Wong suggested that Australia’s experience in governance support could be useful to the Palestinian authority.

“I want to start on a matter of principle: if you’re serious about two states, which means a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, and, if you believe, as the government does, that the only path to long-term peace and security for Israelis and for Palestinians is two-state, then we have to do what we can to take the necessary steps, including to make a Palestinian state viable,” Ms. Wong said (pdf).

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“That’s a state that is capable of delivering on the needs of the Palestinian people. It means capable and accountable systems of governance.”

The foreign minister said Australia wants to see a Palestinian authority “committed to peace” and ready to engage in a “meaningful political process.”

“So, yes, I have asked the department to look at what role we could play in supporting this reform to deliver to the needs of the Palestinian people for the reasons I’ve outlined,” she said.

Ms. Wong has recently reiterated Australia supports a ceasefire endorsed by the U.N. Security Council and wants to see it “fully implemented by both parties,” noting any delay will only see more lives lost.

“Australia continues to press for a ceasefire, for humanitarian aid to reach Gazans in desperate need, and for hostages to be released,” she said on June 12.

UN Membership

Australia voted in favour of the resolution that pushes for Palestine to be granted full membership to the United Nations on May 10.

The U.N. resolution (pdf) did not mention Hamas or hostages and stressed that Palestine is fully qualified for membership.

While 143 nations including New Zealand and China supported this resolution, Australia’s position differed from the United States and Israel.

At the time, Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham said Labor’s support for the resolution sends a message that “violence and terrorism gets results ahead of negotiation and diplomacy.”

“The resolution the Albanese government supported doesn’t mention Hamas, let alone call for their surrender. It also doesn’t call for the release of hostages held by Hamas and doesn’t make respect for Israel’s right to exist a precondition of action,” he said.

Meanwhile, Liberal Senator Dave Sharma has called on Hamas to free all remaining Israeli hostages after four were recently freed in a Gaza raid.

“Impossible to imagine what these poor people (and their families) have endured these past 240 days, but it is great to see them liberated,” he said.

“A quick reminder: the fastest and surest way to end this war is for Hamas to release all remaining hostages.

“These ones were freed by Israel’s military action.”

Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces on June 15 claimed terrorist organisations in Gaza have again “embedded themselves” inside humanitarian infrastructure.

“Yesterday, five projectiles were launched toward Israel from a humanitarian aid area in central Gaza. Two of them crossed into Israeli territory and three fell within Gaza,” they wrote on X.

More Humanitarian Assistance to Gaza

Meanwhile, on June 12, the federal government revealed it will provide another $10 million (US$6.6 million) of humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

Minister Anne Aly announced the funding at an international conference convened by Egypt, Jordan, and the United Nations on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Australia has indicated it is on standby, ready to provide extra support as it continues to monitor and assess the situation in the region.

The funding will be allocated to the United Nations World Food Programme which provides support to Gaza civilians at risk of famine.

Minister for International Development Pat Conroy said since Oct. 7, Australia has provided more than $70 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the region.

“We are pleased to support the World Food Programme, helping it to deliver urgently needed humanitarian assistance to civilians,” he said on June 12.

Minister Anne Aly thanked Egypt, Jordan and the United Nations for bringing the world together in support of civilians in Gaza.

“The suffering of Palestinian civilians cannot continue. Israel must allow aid to flow at scale, as ordered by the International Court of Justice,” she said.

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