Thursday, 1 March 2018
Senator RHIANNON: Has the Australian government made any contact with Israeli counterparts around the arrest and detention of Ahed Tamimi, who was detained on 19 December and continues to be held while she awaits trial?
Mr Neuhaus: Yes, we've had contact on that case.
Senator RHIANNON: What was the context for the contact, please?
Mr Neuhaus: I will go into more detail on that. It's been raised by our embassy in Israel.
Senator RHIANNON: Was it raised that this young woman should not be held, because if she was in a civil court in Israel she wouldn't be held in this way? Was it raised that she should not be held?
Mr Neuhaus: This is not the first of these sorts of issues which we have raised on several occasions. We always raise them consistent with broader human rights concerns, particularly in the case of minors, as we've discussed in other Senate estimates hearings.
Senator RHIANNON: Did you raise that the trial should not occur in a closed court?
Mr Neuhaus: I can't say precisely what was said at that time, but, as a general position, that is something we're not comfortable with.
Senator RHIANNON: Can you take it on notice to release what the statement was or, otherwise, what the contents of the statement were? Can you take that on notice, please?
Mr Neuhaus: I could, but the discussions are, in fact, private, but we'll give you as much detail as we can.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. Will the Australian government insist on having an international observer attend the court hearings of Ahed Tamimi to ensure a fair trial takes place?
Mr Neuhaus: We do attend some cases. I can't say at this point whether that would be one that we would necessarily attend.
Senator RHIANNON: But you will consider attending?
Mr Neuhaus: We're certainly prepared to consider it.
Senator RHIANNON: Has the Australian government raised concerns with Israel regarding the other Palestinian children currently held in Israeli detention? I understand there are about 350 Palestinian children held in Israeli military jails?
Mr Neuhaus: We have consistently raised the issue of minors in detention, yes.
Senator RHIANNON: What does 'consistently' mean, please?
Mr Neuhaus: That means: on occasions when we meet. I myself meet with the ambassador here fairly frequently, but it happens more frequently at our post in Tel Aviv.
Senator RHIANNON: Again, does 'frequently' mean: once every six months?
Mr Neuhaus: No, more frequently. We make representations every one or two months on a range of issues, but that is one in which we have been quite frequent.
Senator RHIANNON: Thank you.