Image: AAP / Mick Tsikas

Penny Wong Pushes For “Pathway Out Of Conflict” Ahead Of Middle East Trip

Foreign minister Penny Wong is visiting the Middle East this week, becoming the most senior Australian minister to do so since conflict began.

Leaving on Monday, Ms Wong will visit Israel, occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates over the week.

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The minister will meet with Israeli families of hostages taken by Hamas; Palestinians impacted by settler violence in the West Bank; as well as her government counterparts in Israel and Palestinian territories.

In a statement released ahead of the trip, Ms Wong said she would use the trip to push for a “pathway out of this conflict” and increased humanitarian assistance.

I will express our profound concern that there are increasingly few safe places for Gazans,” the statement read.

“I will reiterate our call for safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access so that food, water, fuel, medicine and essential assistance to reach people in desperate need, and so civilians can get to safety.”

Ms Wong’s statement also raised concern about the war happening in Gaza and Australia was committed to a two-state solution.

Like many of Israel’s friends, Australia has been clear that the way Israel defends itself matters. Israel must respect international humanitarian law and conduct military operations lawfully. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected,” she said.

“Australia wants to see steps towards a sustainable ceasefire. That can never be one-sided. It is our view that Gaza must no longer be used as a platform for terrorism and that Hamas must lay down its arms.”

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