Australia abstains in UN vote

March 1, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Australia has abstained from a United Nations General Assembly resolution demanding that Israel, together with Palestine, investigate as to whether or not war crimes were committed during Operation Cast Lead, the three week Gaza War which began in December, 2008.

The abstention signals a possible policy change as Australia voted against a similar resolution a few months ago which called for an endorsement of the Goldstone Report.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has told media that the recent usage of fake Australian passports in the Dubai murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had no bearing on the abstention which came about as the resolution concerned “did not endorse the Goldstone Report”.

Other countries who have traditionally favoured Israel in their voting pattern but also abstained from the current resolution include the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

Britain, France and Germany, whose passports were also used in the assassination, supported the current resolution while the U.S. and Canada vote against it.

Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said: “Australia abstained in the vote at the UN General Assembly on a resolution (Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict), calling on Israel and “the Palestinian side” to conduct credible and independent investigations into the Gaza conflict in 2008-9.  Australia had voted against a related resolution last November endorsing the Goldstone Report, because of specific reservations about the text and the flawed nature of the Goldstone Report”.

“We welcome Ambassador Quinlan’s statement to the General Assembly that ‘Australia’s [changed] vote did not change its concerns about the Goldstone Report, nor its preference for allowing the parties sufficient time to study the investigations’, into the Gaza conflict”, Mr Goot concluded.

“The ECAJ understands that the Australian Government’s decision to abstain appears to have been  made some time before the Dubai passport issue emerged and is a reflection on the specific wording of the text of the Resolution.

Federal Labour MP Michael Danby spoke to ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine. He said:

“I think this is a vote at the United Nations General Assembly, which is really not that important, I think this is a little blip on the horizon. The friendship between the two countries goes back too long and is too deep and I think everything will come back into alignment over the next few weeks.”

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