Australian MP calls for ban on citizens funding Israeli settlements in West Bank

Australian MP calls for ban on citizens funding Israeli settlements in West Bank
Australian Labor MP Julian Hill calls for a ban on citizens funding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, urging stronger action against settlers.
3 min read
14 January, 2024

Labor MP Julian Hill has called for the banning of Australian nationals from funding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, urging the Australian government to take a stronger stance against settler activity deemed illegal under international law.

The comments came as Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong prepares to travel to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as part of a Middle East visit this week.

Hill said the government should consider bolder action against settlement activity, including visa bans on settlers.

"It’s clear that firm words and stern finger-pointing are not enough," Hill said according to the Guardian, "The international community needs to attach consequences for settlers and the Israeli authorities of this continued illegal behaviour."

"Amidst the horror occurring in Gaza, we must not lose focus of a sustainable resolution to this long-running conflict," Hill added.

"One of the major structural impediments to a two-state solution is the rapid expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank," he said.

"Australia should, as an initial response, issue visa bans for extremist settlers, as has already occurred in the United States and the United Kingdom and [was] being considered in the EU."

Hill expressed worry over the violence and forced displacements targeting Palestinians in the West Bank, alongside remarks from certain Israeli government ministers hinting at the "emigration" of Palestinians from Gaza.

Live Story

He urged the federal government to explore "comprehensive measures directed at individuals involved in settlement activities and the Israeli authorities", including the potential prohibition of Australians funding such settlement activities.

He also called for an investigation into whether the federal government had granted tax-deductible gift recipient status to any groups supporting West Bank settler activity.

As many as 700,000 Israeli settlers - 10 percent of Israel’s nearly 7 million population - currently live in illegal settlements and outposts built on private lands in the occupied West Bank.

Since 7 October, there has been a spike in settler attacks which had forced hundreds of Palestinians to flee their homes in the West Bank while Israel's onslaught on Gaza killed at least 23,900 people - 70 percent of which were women and children.

Live Story

Australian FM tours Middle East

Foreign affairs minister Penny Wong leaves for Jordan on Monday before visiting Israel, the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates.

She will meet Palestinian victims of settler violence, a striking move that highlights growing alarm among Western governments over the dramatic expansion of Israeli settlements.

"Australia is not a central player in the Middle East, but we are a respected voice - we are a part of the international diplomatic effort reinforcing the imperative of a lasting peace," Wong said in a statement.

"In my meetings, I will be advocating for an increase in the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance, the upholding of international law and greater protection of civilians, and avoiding regional escalation."