Penny Wong reaffirms Labor support for Israel

November 30, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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Senator Penny Wong tackled Labor’s perceived relationship with Israel at The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual conference in Sydney.

Senator Penny Wong Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Senator Penny Wong . SA’s Norman Schueler looks on   Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

She told the delegates  at the conference held at the Shalom Institute that  “as soon I walked in, there were questions!”

She began her address by saying that “it is good to recall Labor’s history of its relationship with the State if Israel” mentioning that Australia supported the UN resolution of November 1947 “proposing the establishment of Jewish and Arab states”. Senator Wong said that on January 1949 Labor Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley announced that Australia would recognise the fledgling State of Israel and as president of the U.N. General Assembly in May 1949, Doc Evatt presided over the vote admitting Israel whilst on the same day Australia opened an embassy in Tel Aviv.

Penny Wong declared that Labor’s support of Israel has been “long-standing and enduring”.  She said that Prime Minister Ben Chifley’s support for Israel at its establishment has been maintained by every Labor Prime Minister since, mentioning Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. She added that Labor has always recognised Israel’s right to exist within internationally recognised secure borders and also “the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people to live in peace and security within their own state”.

The senator said: “Language or action that impedes progress towards an enduring or just two-state solution has been, and will continue to be, subject to question.We must ensure that that questioning is even-handed.”

Senator Wong referred to the debate on the Middle East at Labor’s 2015 National Conference.

She said: “It is a matter of deep regret to many of us that the proceedings at that conference has caused  some to question Labor’s support for Israel.  Senator Wong said that contrary to some reports, Federal Labor did not resolve to unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state. She said: “The resolution of the conference giving rise to concern by some fundamentally reaffirms Labor’s long-standing commitment to a two-state solution and supports a negotiated  settlement between the parties based on the 1967 borders.”

She said the conference’s resolution also affirmed the federal party’s rejection of BDS.

Discussing criticism of Netanyahu’s policy, Wong defended the ALP position by stating that it was a political party and would criticise “the views of others”. She added: “Labor is a friend of Israel but that friendship is not unquestionable. Israel’s elections are a matter for Israel but language or actions by leaders that impede progress towards an enduring and just two-state solution continue to attract international censure.”

Senator Wong added: “To all those who question Labor’s support for Israel I would say look at our actions over the past seven decades.”

The senator spoke of her recent visit to Israel and turned her focus to the current situation saying: “The most recent spasm of violence across Israel and the Palestinian territories is a new and horrendous manifestation of this conflict.” She said that Labor condemns the stabbing attacks.

She said: “Yours is a community that understand the importance of  human rights and the need for tolerance and the lasting  damage that hate speech can cause.”

She thanked the Jewish community for its assistance in the campaign for changes to Racial Discrimination Act.

Senator Penny Wong is the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.


One Response to “Penny Wong reaffirms Labor support for Israel”
  1. Jan Poddebsky says:

    When can we expect Senator Wong and her mellifluous voice give the Palestinian Authority and Hamas the benefit of her advice about getting out of the way of making peace with Israel?

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