Carr and Hague grandstanding says “The Australian”
“The Australian” has published an editorial accusing Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague of “grandstanding” in their criticism of the US and Israel.
J-Wire republishes the editorial with permission from “The Australian”…
It is all very well for Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his British counterpart, William Hague, to demand action by the US to restart the Middle East peace process and condemn Israel over its settlements policy. But in their grandstanding, they forget that whatever influence they might have previously had in Washington and Jerusalem was undermined when both their governments took the abstention route in the UN General Assembly’s vote on Palestinian representation. Senator Carr’s advocacy of this option overturned Julia Gillard’s better judgment. It has annoyed the Obama administration and weakened the bipartisan support for Israel that has long been central to Australian foreign policy.
The short-sighted UN vote has hardened Israel’s stance on settlements, just as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned it would. That is likely to be demonstrated in the Israeli election, with voting tomorrow expected to produce an even more hawkish and pro-settler government led by Mr Netanyahu, and a big swing to the ultra-nationalist, pro-settler Jewish Home party of Naftali Bennett, who has pledged never to evict Jews from the West Bank. With the political tide running so strongly, and mounting fears about conflict over Iran, Mr Netanyahu is protecting his base when he says “the days of bulldozers flattening settlements are behind us, not in front of us”. So Senator Carr and Mr Hague sermonise about settlements being illegal (a contentious view), blaming them for undermining hopes of a negotiated two-state solution, yet they say nothing on the unwillingness of Palestinians to negotiate without preconditions, or the determination of groups such as Hamas to destroy Israel. Since the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, Israel has repeatedly offered unconditional negotiations. Mr Netanyahu did so again only a few days ago, saying “if (Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud) Abbas is willing to negotiate without preconditions, he will find me at the table”. Barack Obama has been largely AWOL on restarting talks, but it is simplistic to blame Israel. Expanding settlements does not help, but they are not the cause of the conflict — the central issue remains the stubborn rejection of negotiations by the Palestinians, and the refusal of groups such as Hamas to even accept Israel’s right to exist. Predictably, the UN vote did nothing to make the Palestinians see sense.
J-Wire sought a statement from Senator Carr on the comments posted on J-Wire. A spokesman for the Foreign Minister said: “Your reader is entitled to his views. But the issue at hand is the resumption by both parties of direct negotiations without preconditions , with the aim of delivering a two-state solution comprising an independent Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel.”
Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia said: “The Zionist Federation of Australia endorses Australian and British foreign affairs chiefs’ statement of support of a two-state solution, and, consistent with this statement, calls on the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table with Israel rather than continue its unilateral steps in order to avoid dealing with Israel.
The status of Israeli settlements is still to be determined under international law; however, if the Palestinians are prepared to negotiate without preconditions, the settlements will be an issue to be resolved.”