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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: Australia
9 August 2006


ADF Officer Joins Team Working on Middle East Peace Process

Australian Defence Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael Chadwick will join the international team working on Palestinian security sector reform, Defence Minister Robert Hill and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer announced today.

The appointment is a practical demonstration of support for Israeli-Palestinian disengagement consistent with the Middle East peace process road map.

LTCOL Chadwick will shortly begin a six month deployment to the Security Sector Working Group (SSWG) which includes United States, British and Canadian personnel, who work closely with the Palestinian Authority on disengagement from Gaza and long term security planning.

The SSWG is led by United States Lieutenant General William Ward. The group is assisting in consolidating reforms and further building the capacity of the Palestinian security infrastructure. This includes providing advice on command and control and general organisational structure.

"Having an effective security force ready to take over from Israel is critical to the success of Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank next month and an integral part of the peace process," Mr Downer said

"Australia strongly supports Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan and we welcome assurances made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority will coordinate with Israel to ensure a successful withdrawal from Gaza."

Senator Hill said concrete steps have already been taken towards reform of the Palestinian security services, and the Australian Government will make a contribution towards ensuring confidence in the security forces.

"The new contribution complements Australia's efforts to promote regional stability, such as ADF personnel deployed in UN roles in Israel, Syria, Lebanon and the Multi National Force and Observers in the Sinai."

Australia is committed to Israel's right to live in peace within secure and defined borders.

At the same time, Australia recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to the creation of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state.

The Government continues to hope all parties are able to see this opportunity to move forward to a just and lasting settlement.

Inquiries:  Chris Kenny (Mr Downer's office) 02 62777 500 - Sascha Meldrum (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7800


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