An ALP government to recognise Palestine as a state

March 31, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The ALP conference has approved an amendment tabled by Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong which will see an Australian government headed by Labor recognising a state of Palestine.

Penny Wong

Delegate Michael Danby, a former Labor MP who is one of Israel’s most vocal supporters, was blocked from speaking to the virtual conference.

The Australian reported Senator Wong said Israelis and Palestinians “deserve to prosper in peace behind secure, recognised borders. It reflects our belief that a true friend of Israel is a true friend of the rights of Palestinians to statehood,” she said. “And it reflects the leader’s longstanding position that any lasting resolution to the Middle East conflict cannot be at the expense of either Palestinians or Israelis.”

Co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim commented: “The ALP platform change is based on the misconception that Israel alone is responsible for the lack of progress in recent years towards a peace agreement with the Palestinians, leading to a two-State outcome, and that the Palestinian leadership is to be given a free pass for rejecting the offers that have been made to achieve such an outcome and deciding to boycott further negotiations.

This view is no longer held even by the Arab States which were once hostile to Israel and which have now normalised relations with it.  They are no longer prepared to allow progress towards a wider peace in the Middle East to be held hostage to the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership.  It is regrettable that the ALP platform change reflects a view that has failed to evolve with these changing circumstances in the region itself.

The amendment to the ALP platform stops short of recognising a State of ‘Palestine’. According to Senator Wong’s explanatory statement, “this is a decision for a future Labor government”.  She also said that “it has no greater or lesser weight” than the resolution on recognition of a Palestinian State passed at the ALP National Conference in 2018.

However, if the ALP is elected to government, Anthony Albanese will be under greater pressure than previous ALP leaders to bow to those pushing an extreme line on this issue. Many people, not only in the Jewish community, will feel very let down by this outdated, one-sided approach that is at odds with Israel’s recent normalisation of relations with Arab states and Australia’s security and economic interests.

The Palestinians have no entity that meets the criteria of a functioning state, and the platform change is at odds with the ALP’s own frequent statements that nothing should be done to pre-empt the outcome of key issues which can only be resolved through direct negotiations.

Which entity is the ALP suggesting is deserving of statehood? The Islamists of Hamas? The Palestinian authority that continues a policy of incitement to murder Jews through their policy of ‘pay to slay’ and ongoing vilification taught to school children? Recognising a non-existent Palestinian State can only serve to entrench the Palestinian policy of rejectionism of Israel’s right to exist as the State of the Jewish people.

Recognising a Palestinian state other than as part of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians can therefore only act as a disincentive, rather than an encouragement, for the Palestinians to resume negotiations. It is entirely counterproductive. One would hope that a future ALP government will encourage the Palestinians to return to negotiations.”

The Zionist Federation of Australia expressed its disappointment that the Australian Labor Party’s newly-adopted platform includes a call for the next Labor government to recognise a  Palestinian state.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “The Labor leadership has previously opposed any unilateral actions that undermine Israeli–Palestinian peace. The ‘statement in detail’ now included in the ALP platform calls for the next Labor government to be a party to a direct violation of an international peace agreement, which would undermine the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. We are confident that the Labor leadership would not want this outcome.”

Mr Leibler pointed out that ‘Palestine’ does not meet the minimum requirements of statehood. “Pretending that ‘Palestine’ meets the minimum criteria for a state when it manifestly does not is virtue signalling, and would only undermine Australia’s reputation as a law-abiding and pragmatic honest broker”, he said.

Mr Leibler also noted that multiple Arab countries have moved to forge peace with Israel despite the impasse in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. “Regional peace and prosperity should not be and is no longer dependent on the Palestinians’ willingness to make peace”, said Mr Leibler. “An increasing number of Arab states recognise that peace requires the genuine commitment of both parties and no longer subscribe to the notion that only Israel is to blame for the current impasse. It is unfortunate that Labor’s statement in detail fails to reflect what is now clear to many of Israel’s neighbours.”

Mr Leibler acknowledged Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s confirmation that the Labor platform does not bind the next Labor government to recognise Palestine and said, “I am confident the Labor leadership will maintain the long-standing bipartisan consensus that the only path to a viable Palestinian state is by negotiations. Only by talking to each other will Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace and security.”

The ZFA welcomed the additional resolutions on Iran and Hezbollah, which recognised their negative impact across the Middle East, and the need for whole-hearted Iranian cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with full verification.

Liberal MP for the Sydney electorate of Wentworth Dave Sharma was Australia’s ambassador to Israel between 2013 and 2017. He told J-Wire: “I was disappointed to see Labor fracture decades of bipartisan policy with its decision overnight to abandon commitment to a two-state solution and instead move towards unilateral recognition.

The Palestinian Territories remain politically separated between Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas rules by fear in Gaza and fires rockets and digs tunnels into Israel. In the West Bank, President Abbas is now 16 years into a 4-year term.
At a time when Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are recognising that closer relations with Israel are key to resolving some of the Middle East’s most pressing security challenges, Labor appears to be heading in the other direction — at odds with the region and with contemporary reality.”

The executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein stated: “AIJAC believes that the ALP National Conference vote in favour of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state was misguided and will be counterproductive to prospects for a negotiated two-state outcome, which the ALP platform still rightly supports.

It is widely understood that recognition of a state of Palestine would be a final status issue to be settled between the parties. Given that the Palestinians have been refusing all negotiations with Israel for more than half a decade, offering unilateral recognition of statehood to the Palestinians without suggesting any obligations on the Palestinian side clearly rewards Palestinian intransigence.

Furthermore, adopting such an outdated stance appears particularly difficult to understand in the wake of last year’s landmark Abraham Accords, normalising relations between Israel and four Arab states, and offering new potential avenues to encourage the achievement of a two-state peace.

However, given senior shadow cabinet figures have offered assurances that the platform’s language remains non-binding and any future ALP government will make up its own mind on the subject, AIJAC hopes this ALP vote will not unduly hinder the cause of peaceful Israeli-Palestinian coexistence.”


Michael Danby farewells Canberra Photo: supplied

The following is the text Michael Danby was expecting to deliver to the conference before being blocked from doing so.

“ There are many aspects of this report that have merit,including our efforts  to take a firmer position to support the Uighers,Hong Kong and Taiwan

But in sorrow than I speak against the adoption of this Report.

New words have been inserted in the Platform on Israel/Palestine,about which Albo and I many years ago reached an equitable agreement

It is not a semantic debate. It is about process and integrity.

At the beginning of this month Bob Carr told The Australian about boondoggling into the Platform the 2018 Resolution.

Today, the stage wants all motions on foreign policy to be Resolutions.

So why make Israel/Palestine the sole exception. Surely in the scale of human suffering 2 million Uighers dragged off to camps deserve priority or the poor people of Burma now under the boot of military coup

Senator Wong’s words in moving the Report show she cares to get it right.

But it is a stuff-up to alter our platform for this issue and no other is the wrong priority,especially  given the spread of peace between Israel and the Arab States under the Abraham accords

I wish I had the opportunity to speak to the Bliss amendment. He very sensibly wanted to say “Consistent with previous ALP policy over many decades, Labor opposes the illegal building of new settlements on disputed territory. Additionally, Labor supports the Biden Administration’s determination to renew the peace process.” And he set out ideas about the factors that should determine when and in what circumstances recognition of Palestine might occur.

Ideas like: free and fair elections; repression of free trade unionism stopped; the right of the State of Israel to exist has been formally acknowledged (Hamas still refuses); women and other rights protected; arbitrary murders no more; violence as a means of achieving goals is

What Labor party in the world would oppose these sentiments?”


One Response to “An ALP government to recognise Palestine as a state”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    Peter Wertheim cuts to the thrust and says what needs to be said in response to this more than unfortunate action at the ALP Conference. Really, the facts outlined speak for themselves and one can only wonder at the continued reiteration of rhetoric such as Penny Wong’s and other misguided ALP members as regards a State of Palestine (without international prerequisite criteria being met), or a two State solution for that matter. The question asked,’Which entity is the ALP suggesting is deserving of statehood?’ should be put directly to the ALP and answered – in order to answer it they would have to engage with the facts on the ground.

    It’s the height of arrogance (and ignorance) for ALP members, the EU, the UK, Canada, or any other separate entity, to so blithely mouth what needs to be done, or what should be done, in the issue of the Palestinians and Israel, to keep on keeping on about the need for Palestinian statehood, peace and a two state solution. No thought is given to it – none. It’s just parroting a projection of other onto a situation that is internal to those concerned. We know the sad and sorry progression of the elements informing it, that splits a situation into goodie/baddie, victim/aggressor, oppressed/oppressor. The ALP vote on this is marred by this easy narrative, even if not admitted (only the Greens do that), and what is astounding is that it doesn’t seem to bother anybody that the Palestinians themselves are not at all interested in a two state solution, or for ‘normalising’ as they put it, any kind of relation with or recognition of the State of Israel. What do you do with that one, Penny Wong/ALP? What earthly good can your ideological preferences do in this case? Only add weight to the dangerous situation that would exist if a State of Palestine was declared internationally without the agreement of Israel. And this it seems is what would make the world happy.

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