Pi News –
Foreign Minister Penny Wong has dismissed suggestions that Australia may seek ceasefire guarantees in the Middle East conflict between Israel and Hamas.
However, during the first stop of his visit to the region in Jordan, Wong said Australia could still add to calls for peace in the Middle East as demands for a sustainable ceasefire grow.
“I don’t think Australia can come to the region. [and] demand clear guarantees,” he told reporters in Jordan.
“All we can do is come to the region and raise our voice for peace… We believe that if there is real progress towards peace and security for Israel, the Palestinian people and their legitimate aspirations, then there will be peace in the end. for statehood”.
It comes as Australia pledges another $21.5 million in humanitarian aid for the region, with a particular focus on civilians in Gaza.
Funding includes $4 million for the Red Cross, $6 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and $11.5 million for refugee programs in Lebanon and Jordan.
Australia has now delivered $46 million in humanitarian aid since the conflict erupted on October 7 following attacks by Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the federal government.
Wong held talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on the first stop of his trip to the Middle East.
He also met with King Abdullah II of Jordan and UN High Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs Sigrid Kaag.
Wong said the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire.
“We have a role to play as Australia. Obviously, we are not the side of the region, but I hope we are a respected voice and we can continue to help from afar,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“I hope that the international community can work to achieve a just and lasting peace. [in] Israelis will live in peace and security, and Palestinians will be able to achieve their legitimate aspirations for statehood.
The foreign minister, who is in Israel, will also visit the occupied Palestinian territories and the United Arab Emirates during his Middle East tour.
He has been criticized by the coalition for not visiting southern Israeli cities where Hamas attacks have taken place.
Liberal deputy leader Sussan Ley said it was “inexcusable” for Senator Wong not to go.
“I hope he changes his mind about it,” he told Sky News.
“He should see the areas on October 7 that have completely changed the landscape, both politically and for the communities.”