AIJAC and ZFA to Bob Carr: “We disagree”
The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has said that it disagrees with Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s claim about the legality of settlements but adds there is more in the mix to be considered.
AIJAC’s statement: “We disagree with Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s claim regarding the legality of settlements but that is not the principal problem with the policy shift he has led. We are disappointed that Senator Carr has altered a long-standing bipartisan policy in Australia by repeatedly asserting a contentious and disputed legal claim in a way which is both one-sided and which also potentially undermines progress towards a negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict.
A strong case can be made that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply in the West Bank and, even if it does, that it would not forbid Israeli settlements there. However, that aside, progress toward peace requires encouraging the Israelis and Palestinians to compromise and work together. Unequivocal proclamations on contentious legal claims prejudice the outcome of negotiations by narrowing the scope for compromise on important final-status issues, discourage flexibility in the negotiating process and detract from efforts to bridge the major differences between the two sides. We call on Senator Carr to return to the traditional bipartisan policy of placing principled and realistic support for negotiations toward a two-state resolution at the centre of Australia’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia added: “The comments made by Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, at an event marking the end of Ramadan, again focusing on the legality of settlements, are disappointing and counterproductive. At a time when political leaders around the world should be doing everything they can to encourage both the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate without any preconditions or pressures, we do not believe that the Foreign Minister’s comments are helpful. “