MEDIA RELEASE - Ebola Crisis

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

THE HON CATHERINE KING MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

 

MEDIA RELEASE

EBOLA CRISIS

 

WEDNESDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2014

In Question Time today, the Abbott Government again refused to offer support for skilled, experienced Australians willing and able to fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

This is despite Australia co-sponsoring a unanimous UN Security Council resolution calling on all nations to:

” …facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies, in response to the Ebola outbreak…”. 

UNSC resolution 2177

18 September 2014

The resolution was co-sponsored by a record 131 countries.

Labor supports the Government’s $8 million financial contribution to help tackle this crisis.  But the rapidly escalating situation demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to help fight the spread of Ebola.

The United States and the UK have already committed medical teams to the region.

Government claims that Australia cannot care for medical personnel sent to West Africa ignore the fact around a dozen Australian volunteers are already on the ground there dealing with the Ebola crisis.

If required, the Australian Government should negotiate with our international partners to ensure appropriate standby management arrangements for any Australian personnel.

Failure to act now will have incredibly serious consequences.

Of the around 6,500 Ebola cases so far, more than 3,000 people have died.  If we don’t do more, some predictions suggest the number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by 2015.

It also puts international peace and security at risk.

Today, the first case of Ebola in the United States was diagnosed.

If the international community pulls together, the Ebola outbreak may be possible to contain.  But the window of opportunity is closing fast.  That’s why Australia must significantly increase its efforts, immediately.

Urgent calls for assistance have come from across the world:

US President Barack Obama:

“We are not moving fast enough.  We are not doing enough.  Right now, everybody has the best of intentions, but people are not putting in the kinds of resources that are necessary to put a stop to this epidemic. 

 

“More nations need to contribute critical assets and capabilities -- whether it is air transport, or medical evacuation, or health care workers, or equipment, or treatment.” 

UN High-Level meeting on Ebola

18 September 2014

 

Médecins Sans Frontières:

“We have been very clear with the government that we are not asking for financial support. We are asking the government to evaluate Australia’s emergency medical capacity and mobilise it on the ground in West Africa.”

MSF Australian executive director Paul McPhun

18 September 2014

 

Australian Medical Association:

“We are witnessing a humanitarian and public health crisis of the highest order.

“The Australian Government can and must do more – much more.

“The AMA is calling on the Government to urgently coordinate the recruitment and deployment of volunteer doctors and other health professionals to West Africa, and provide ongoing practical support such as protective and medical equipment and supplies, transport and accommodation.”

AMA President Brian Owler

18 September 2014

 

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Australia Must Contribute More to Fight Against West Africa Ebola Crisis

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

THE HON CATHERINE KING MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

 

MEDIA RELEASE

AUSTRALIA MUST CONTRIBUTE MORE TO FIGHT AGAINST WEST AFRICA EBOLA CRISIS

 MONDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Abbott Government must listen to the pleas from medical experts and contribute more to the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by supporting skilled and experienced Australians who are willing and able to assist.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the worsening Ebola crisis as “unparalleled in modern times” with the disease now having killed more than 3,000 people.

Just because the Ebola crisis is not right on our border doesn't mean that we shouldn't be concerned about the scale of this humanitarian disaster.

The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is fast closing. As President Obama said last week in a speech to a high level UN meeting on the crisis, “everybody has to do more”.

In that speech, President Obama made clear the urgent need in West Africa is for nations like Australia “to contribute critical assets and capabilities — whether it is air transport, or medical evacuation, or health care workers, or equipment, or treatment.”

Labor supported the Government’s $8 million in financial contributions, but believes the crisis now demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to contribute to tackle this rapidly escalating crisis.

Government claims that Australia cannot care for medical personnel sent to West Africa ignore the fact around a dozen Australian volunteers are already on the ground there dealing with the Ebola crisis.

The US and UK have already committed medical teams to the region.

If required, the Australian Government should negotiate with our international partners to ensure appropriate standby management arrangements for any Australian personnel in West Africa.

Australia is a prosperous and generous nation and our Government should do all it can to assist this humanitarian crisis while it is still possible to contain this Ebola outbreak.

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Australia Must Heed President Obama's Call and Contribute More to Ebola Crisis

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

THE HON CATHERINE KING MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

AUSTRALIA MUST HEED PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CALL AND CONTRIBUTE MORE TO EBOLA CRISIS

 FRIDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Abbott Government must heed President Obama’s call and contribute more to the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by supporting skilled and experienced Australians who are willing and able to assist.

In a speech overnight to a high level UN meeting, President Obama has called for nations like Australia with the resources, to urgently do more to fight the Ebola crisis.

“We are not moving fast enough.  We are not doing enough.  Right now, everybody has the best of intentions, but people are not putting in the kinds of resources that are necessary to put a stop to this epidemic. 

 

“More nations need to contribute critical assets and capabilities -- whether it is air transport, or medical evacuation, or health care workers, or equipment, or treatment.” 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the worsening Ebola crisis as “unparalleled in modern times” with the disease now having killed more than 2,800 people and infected nearly 6,000 people in West Africa.

The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is fast closing. As President Obama said “everybody has to do more”.

Australia is a prosperous and generous nation and our Government should do all it can to assist this humanitarian crisis while it is still possible to contain this Ebola outbreak.

Labor supported the Government’s $8 million in financial contributions, but believes the crisis now demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to contribute to tackle this rapidly escalating crisis.

 

 

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STATEMENT - Visit to India

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

SENATOR LISA SINGH

SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER

LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

STATEMENT

VISIT TO INDIA

 MONDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Tanya Plibersek, and Senator Lisa Singh will visit India this week.

Ms Plibersek and Senator Singh will meet with senior ministers, officials, academics, and non-government organisations.

India is one of Australia’s closest international partners and friends.

We cooperate on everything from education and research to defence and counter-terrorism.

And there are around 400,000 people of Indian ancestry living in Australia today who are significant contributors to our vibrant, successful multicultural society.

Australian Labor has a proud history of friendship with India stretching back as far as the Chifley Government’s close engagement with a newly independent India.

More recently, the Rudd and Gillard Labor Governments elevated the relationship to an official Strategic Partnership.

Ms Plibersek and Ms Singh will use their visit to strengthen and deepen the relationship between our two great nations.

 

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OPINION PIECE - Australia's Involvement in Iraq

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

OPINION PIECE

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GUARDIAN, 18 SEPTEMBER 2014

 

AUSTRALIA’S INVOLVEMENT IN IRAQ

  

On the sixth of April, 1994, Hutu extremists began a shocking genocide of ethnic minorities in Rwanda.  The world condemned it, but took no action.  Just 100 days later, 800 000 people had been senselessly slaughtered.

Now, twenty years on, we grapple with the evil of ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria.  But this time, I am hopeful that as an international community we won’t look back and say we did nothing in the face of mass atrocity crimes.

There are confirmed instances of IS engaging in widespread ethnic and religious cleansing, targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, human trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, and the besieging of entire communities.  There are reports of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, thousands injured and almost two million people who have fled their homes.  These reports are so serious that the United Nations Human Rights Council has authorised an investigation into mass atrocity crimes in Iraq.

The horror of Rwanda and similar tragedies have caused the world to consider what our responsibility is to protect civilians where their own government is unwilling or unable to.  What emerged was a new international doctrine: the ‘responsibility to protect’.

Former Labor foreign minister, Gareth Evans, championed this idea, and its acceptance by the UN.

He uses a set of criteria to judge when ‘responsibility to protect’ should apply. On the current question of Iraq, these principles provide Labor a very useful framework to help guide whether we support Australian involvement – both now and into the future.

The criteria include whether there is just cause, the right intention, whether it’s a last resort, the action has legitimate authority, is proportionate, and has a reasonable prospect of success.

On the current information, Labor’s assessment is that these criteria have been met for Iraq.  Australia and the world have a ‘responsibility to protect’ and an obligation to act.

When Australians hear their government talk of involvement in Iraq they have good reason to be cautious.

The disaster of the 2003 invasion colours every debate. And we should never forget its lessons.

As I said in a letter presented to then US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice back in 2003 – the Bush administration, the Blair administration, and our own Howard administration rushed in.  They went in on the basis of false claims about Weapons of Mass Destruction, and before weapons inspectors had time to complete their work.

The result? Nearly a decade of conflict, hundreds of thousands dead, and significant instability in the region.

In the context of this history, it is right that people urge caution now.

While history should inform our actions, it should not cloud a sober assessment of the facts of the current situation.  The situation today is very different from 2003.

In 2003, Australia was one of four countries to take action in Iraq.  Today, we’re one of about forty, including many countries from the Middle East, and countries that did not sign up to the 2003 invasion.

In 2003 we went in against the wishes of the government of Iraq and against the wishes of many Iraqis.  Today we’ve been asked by the democratically elected government of Iraq to help fight off an immediate threat to its citizens – and action has the backing of the UN Secretary-General.

In 2003, the objectives of our intervention in Iraq were flimsy.  Today the clear objective is to help the Iraqi government protect innocent civilians from mass atrocity crimes.

Labor has supported Australia’s involvement so far.  But that support comes with important considerations.

We’ve been clear that we do not support the deployment of Australian ground combat units to directly engage in fighting IS.

We believe Australia’s military involvement in Iraq should continue only as long as is necessary to place the Iraqi government and its forces in a position to take full and effective responsibility for their own security.

We believe if the Iraqi government and its forces adopt policies or engage in actions that are unacceptable to Australia, or if our involvement is ineffective – our support should cease.

And as an important accountability, if Australia’s engagement was to continue beyond a matter of weeks, Labor will ask the Prime Minister to formally update the parliament at least every three months.  Each update should detail what our efforts have achieved and what progress we have made towards the conclusion of our involvement.

The conflict in Syria has fed the rise of IS.

Around 200,000 people have been killed in Syria.  The scale of the humanitarian disaster has seen the impacts spill over into the region.  More than 9 million displaced Syrians have to go somewhere, and that has seen neighbours such as Lebanon and Jordan take in millions of refugees.

But Labor does not support taking action in Syria similar to that being taken in Iraq.  There is no clear evidence that such Australian involvement could successfully provide relief to the humanitarian crisis that is occurring in Syria.  It’s not clear which of the forces on the ground we could support.  And there is no clear international support or authority for that kind of action.

Our immediate efforts in Syria should focus on increased humanitarian assistance, and the international community should continue to work, including through the Security Council, to end the fighting in Syria.

The UN has called for $6.5 billion in aid for the Syria crisis, the largest ever appeal for funds.  Australia, under the Coalition, has pledged just $30 million or so in aid – a sadly inadequate response to an enormous humanitarian need.  And we have agreed to take just 2,200 refugees from Syria and 2,200 from Iraq (as part of our regular intake) when millions are displaced from their homes.

Labor believes Australia should be doing more.  We can give greater financial support.  We can take more refugees from the region.  In Government Labor increased the humanitarian refugee program to 20,000 places.

The Abbott Government took a backward step and cut our humanitarian program to 13,750 places.  This limits Australia’s ability as a good global citizen in times like this to be able to assist people fleeing violence and persecution.
Certainly, Labor believes the intake of 4,400 refugees from Iraq and Syria announced by the Government should be in addition to the existing 13,750 places in its scaled back humanitarian program.

As a party of social justice and compassion, Labor believes there are circumstances where Australia has a responsibility to protect.  The current situation in Iraq is one such circumstance.

Labor will work constructively with the Government, but as an opposition we also have a responsibility to question – to carefully scrutinise the approach put forward by the Government.

We’ll look at the facts and make sensible judgments at every step.  Labor’s Shadow National Security Committee is meeting regularly to carefully work through these complex, difficult issues.

National security is above politics, but such important decisions are never beyond question, interrogation, or criticism.  We have supported debate in the Parliament and will continue to do so.  We have also requested the Government keep the Australian people abreast of the circumstances and the effectiveness of our involvement.

The decision to send Australian men and women into harm’s way should never be taken lightly, and Labor never will.

Our responsibility to the people of Iraq is to ensure any action Australia is involved in leaves the place better, not worse.

On the current facts, Labor sees no option but to act.  To do otherwise could condemn innocent Iraqis to the same fate as the 800,000 Rwandans brutally murdered in just 100 days, two decades ago.

ENDS

 

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STATEMENT - Visit to India

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

SENATOR LISA SINGH

SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER

LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

 

STATEMENT

 

VISIT TO INDIA

 

THURSDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Tanya Plibersek, and Senator Lisa Singh will travel to India next week.

Ms Plibersek and Senator Singh will meet with senior ministers, officials, academics, and non-government organisations.

India is one of Australia’s closest international partners and friends.

We cooperate on everything from education and research to defence and counter-terrorism.

And there are around 400,000 people of Indian ancestry living in Australia today who are significant contributors to our vibrant, successful multicultural society.

Australian Labor has a proud history of friendship with India stretching back as far as the Chifley Government’s close engagement with a newly independent India.

More recently, the Rudd and Gillard Labor Governments elevated the relationship to an official Strategic Partnership.

Ms Plibersek and Ms Singh will use their visit to strengthen and deepen the relationship between our two great nations.

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Labor Welcomes Increased Assistance for Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

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TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

CATHERINE KING MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

MEDIA RELEASE

 

LABOR WELCOMES INCREASED ASSISTANCE FOR EBOLA OUTBREAK IN WEST AFRICA

WEDNESDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2014

Labor welcomes Australia’s increased contribution towards tackling the worsening Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the worsening Ebola crisis as “unparalleled in modern times” with the disease now having killed more than 2,470 people out of 4,940 cases in West Africa.

With the outbreak now escalating rapidly, West African healthcare facilities are unable to cope, and are in urgent need of financial and humanitarian assistance.

Labor notes the Abbott Government cut more than $118 million in overseas aid to Africa in its first Budget.

Today’s announcement of a further $7 million is a welcome and compassionate response to this rapidly escalating crisis.

Labor also congratulates President Obama for his announcement overnight that the US will send troops, engineers and medical personnel to build treatment centres and train healthcare workers to deal with the crisis.

While Ebola is a very serious disease there have been no cases in Australia and the risk of an outbreak here remains low.

Labor acknowledges the Department of Health Chief Medical Officer’s leadership in working with WHO officials to protect Australia in the unlikely event of an Ebola case occurring here.

We have also been assured Australia’s border protection and infection control measures are consistent with WHO’s recommendations for countries not affected by the outbreak.

Labor urges the government to continue to work closely with international agencies, and consider further contributions, should the Ebola crisis continue to worsen.

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MEDIA RELEASE - Newcastle Speaks Out Against Abbott Government's $7.6 Billion Overseas Aid Cut

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

SHARON CLAYDON MP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR NEWCASTLE

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

NEWCASTLE SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S $7.6 BILLION OVERSEAS AID CUT

 

TUESDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Abbott Liberal Government’s $7.6 billion cut to overseas aid is a broken promise that will hurt the world’s poor.

Tanya Plibersek, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, was in Newcastle today and addressed a large audience about the cuts at a public forum at University House.

“Tony Abbott made a pre-election promise to increase investment in overseas aid in line with the consumer price index,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Yet in his first Budget, he cut $7.6 billion from our aid contribution, including more than $110 million from aid to our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific.”

Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon, said the Abbott Government’s cuts are hugely disappointing for the more than 20,000 supporters of international development in our local community.

“Novocastrians are generous supporters of international development and make a substantial contribution both financially and with their time to nations not as well-off as ours,” Ms Claydon said.

“In addition to the 20,000 individuals who are actively involved in our community, 500 local businesses and 55 community and church groups are active around international development issues in our city.”

“The cuts to overseas aid by the Abbott Liberal Government are a big hit to the countries directly affected, but they are also a betrayal of these thousands of Novocastrians who volunteer and support overseas aid programs.”

Newcastle’s large Pacific Islander community with family members still at home have every right to feel aggrieved with more than $30 million of funding cut from nations such as the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga.

“Australia is a generous country and we can afford to lend a helping hand to those who need it most. We also have a particular responsibility to our neighbours in the Pacific,” Ms Claydon said.

The Abbott Government said it would provide certainty on overseas aid, but all it has delivered is chaos, cuts, and broken promises.

In contrast, the former Labor Government nearly doubled the aid budget.

 

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STATEMENT - Australian Military Contribution to Fighting Evils of ISIL

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THE HON BILL SHORTEN

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

STATEMENT

AUSTRALIAN MILITARY CONTRIBUTION TO FIGHTING EVILS OF ISIL

 

SUNDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2014

This afternoon, the Prime Minister briefed the Opposition on Australia's contribution to an international coalition to fight ISIL.

ISIL is a barbaric organisation that is engaged in the massacre of innocent people.

The execution of British citizen David Haines is further sickening evidence of this.

This evil organisation must be defeated and their fighting capacity disabled.

We cannot co-operate with this insatiable ruthlessness by refusing to support the innocent.

The situation in Iraq remains deeply concerning and there’s no doubt that a humanitarian crisis continues to develop.

Labor has fully supported the humanitarian mission that Australia has been involved with in Iraq – our RAAF personnel have been doing a tremendous job providing humanitarian relief to people desperately in need.

Labor supports today's announcement of the deployment of an Australian military force – including RAAF assets and personnel – to the United Arab Emirates.

We don't do so lightly, but we support the Government's decision that Australia has a role to play in eradicating this evil and we are reassured that our support is being provided at the request of, and in full coordination with, the Iraqi Government.

We are also greatly heartened by the progress being made by new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in the formation of a unity government, which is vital to achieving a successful outcome against these terrorists.

President Obama made it clear that the United States will not be dragged into another ground war in Iraq – this is an important statement of principle and we support this

There have been too many mistakes made in the past that western countries must avoid repeating.

In uncertain times such as these, we must refuse to submit to fear, prejudice and intolerance.

We must jealously guard the harmony of our society.  It's what makes our country so remarkable.

The Australian men and women involved in this action – and their families – will be in our thoughts.

 

 

 

 

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STATEMENT - Israel and West Bank Land

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

ISRAEL AND WEST BANK LAND

 

FRIDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Israeli Government must reverse its decision to claim almost 400 hectares of land in the West Bank.

Ten days ago, Labor called on the Israeli Government to explain its actions.  Subsequent reports indicate the land may be used to expand Israeli settlements in the area.

Unilateral action like this, by any party, only undermines the peace process and the prospect of successfully negotiating a two-state solution.

It is particularly disappointing given recent agreement to a ceasefire that ended the terrible violence of the Gaza conflict.

Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank is not in line with international law.

Labor supports a return to negotiations between the parties for a lasting peace through a two state solution.

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