Australia to abstain on U.N. Palestinian observer status

November 28, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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This week, the member nations of the United Nations are expected to vote on the Palestinian observer status resolution.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr have issued the following joint statement:

Should the Question of Palestine resolution come forward, Australia will abstain.

The Government’s position balances our long-standing support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their own state with our concern that the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

This draft resolution, if passed by UN member states, will accord non-member Observer state status in the UN to the Palestinian Authority.

It reaffirms the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination but does not confer statehood.

Australia strongly supports a negotiated two-state solution that allows a secure Israel to live side-by-side with a secure and independent future Palestinian state.

We urge both sides to return to negotiations in good faith.”

Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop responded to the announcement saying: “The Coalition is disappointed that the Government has decided to abstain from voting at the United Nations on the matter of Palestinian Observer Status.

The Coalition believes Australia should vote against this bid as we do not believe that this is the path to peace and reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Our concern is that the drive for greater recognition at the United Nations is an attempt by Palestinian leaders to enable them to bring action against Israel through the international courts.
It also risks conferring increased international status on the militant group Hamas which governs Gaza.
This action is likely to escalate and prolong the conflict, rather than lead to a resolution of disputes.
The path to peace is for the Palestinian leadership to officially recognise the right of Israel to exist and to halt the firing of rockets and mortars as part of a campaign by militants to terrorise and kill Israeli civilians.Australia has long supported the two-state solution and the right of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live peacefully and in safety within internationally recognised borders.We urge both sides to resume negotiations towards a lasting peace in the region.”

Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive direcrtor of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council commented: “AIJAC today said the Australian government made the correct decision in deciding not to back efforts in the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian mission’s status to that of an “observer state”.

The expected vote will be a setback for peace because the PA move not only distracts from the urgent need to restart direct negotiations on a two-state resolution and provides Palestinians with a damaging and fruitless hope that they can advance their agenda without the need for negotiations or compromise, but is also a material breach of the Oslo accords.

AIJAC also stated that it was unfortunate that a principled “no” vote – which would have been even more appropriate – did not prove possible on this occasion.”

Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia added: “The Zionist Federation of Australia is deeply disappointed that Australia, a long-standing friend of Israel and a consistent supporter of a negotiated two-state solution that has consistently opposed the concept of unilateral Palestinian actions at the United Nations, has now determined to abstain –rather than vote against – a resolution giving Palestine observer status at the U.N. General Assembly.

Instead of encouraging the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table with Israel without preconditions, this unilateral move by the Palestinians will not progress their aim of statehood, but will instead create more mistrust and lack of confidence between Israel and the Palestinians and harm the prospects of a negotiated peaceful two-state solution.”




8 Responses to “Australia to abstain on U.N. Palestinian observer status”
  1. Nathan says:

    This decision is straightforward national interest protection. The idea that we should take sides in an ethnic conflict on the other side of the globe is completely irrational. Australia’s standing has been enhanced by taking a neutral stance on this issue.

    • Shirlee. says:

      FYI Nathan.

      Australia only took ” a neutral stance on this issue” because Julia’s head was on the block.

      Carr and his cronies were worried abut the Muslim vote.

      Here we go. Haven’t we learned from Europstan and Londonstan and what is going on in Sweden and Holland.?

      We saw the start of it only a few short weeks ago with the riots.

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    Shame on our government, indeed, Rita. It’s a weak stance, and an unintelligent one. Very disappointing indeed. Bob Carr is proving to be a terrible choice as Foreign Minister and that’s another Gillard mistake in judgement. Just as Julia Gilllard compromised on the super profits mining tax, bringing any gain to neutral, so she has compromised on this UN issue. However, insofar as Australians voting in elections, it’s a conundrum, as we are first and foremost voting on Australian domestic issues, and the Liberal party coalition would be a disaster on that score. Same goes for the Americans, really.

  3. Bob says:

    One word, demographics.
    When Jewish and Israeli (zionist) lobbies in Australia could deliver cash, influence and pockets of votes that were crucial for one party or another to get elected then neither the ALP or the Coalition would dare to drop support for Israel as is this case. The lobbies still have the cash and the influence but there are now other minorities in Australia that have become numerical enough so that quite a few Australian politicians with marginal seats have to soit up and listen to. That is the reality of Australia’s even-handedness and balance with regards to Palestinian matters. Learn to live with it.

    • Naomi says:

      Bob, you hit the nail on the head. Whoever said “Demographics is Destiny” must have had just this scenario in mind. You may wish to check out a modest little data analysis I just did based on ABS Census data from 2001, 2006 and 2011. Please note that while the percentage of people who stated a religious affiliation of Judaism increased by only 16% from 2001 to 2011, the percentage of people who stated their religion as Islam increased by 69%. Jews are now outnumbered nearly 5 to 1 by Muslims in Australia. We could do additional analysis to show higher education levels or greater wealth, or we could posit an average IQ difference of about two standard deviations, but we will continue to fall further behind in terms of sheer physical presence in this country (and sadly, in many other countries). “Learn to live with it”, you say? What choice do we have?

      Little table follows:

      Number of Jews and Muslims in Australia According to Census in 2001, 2006, 2011
      Year of Australian Census
      2001 2006 2011
      Judaism 83,993 88,830 97,335
      Islam 281,578 340,392 476,290

      Judaism Percent Increase
      from 2001 5.8% 15.9%

      Islam Percent Increase 20.9% 69.2%
      from 2001

  4. Rita says:

    Shame on our government!

    The only intelligent AND honorable position is the one that Julie Bishop advocates. Somehow I think that they did not have to bring Bob Carr screaming and shouting to this (at best) Pontius Pilate decision.

    Just like the Jewish people who voted for Obama voted for the destruction of Israel and her people, so the Jewish people who will vote for this Green/Labor government next year will vote for the same outcome.

  5. Ben says:

    If the objectives of a peace process and observer status recognition are both to achieve a two state solution, then how can the PA move be a “distraction” ? They steps that are entirely consistent with one another. Moreover, how can they be a distraction from talks that have foundered because Israel refuses to budge on its settlement policy.

    Observer status does not resolve boundary and host of other issues so there is still plenty to negotiate. The move pre-empts nothing.

    The only advantage is potential access to the ICC and why is this a bad thing ? If Israel complies with Int law, which, barring its settlements in WB, it appears to do for the most part, it has nothing to fear. Violence from a Palestinian state is as indictable in the ICC as anything perpetrated against it.

    Better the parties fight it out in the ICC than on the battlefield.

    Whatever people may think, the consensus of world opinion is that Israel’s settlement policy renders it the intransigent party (a view even shared by some of its hardened supporters) and may need a gentle ‘nudge’ in the right direction.

    • Ian says:

      The PLO’s move (the draft resolution only mentions the PLO) breaches Oslo and UNSC 242 for a start, especially when it comes to defining boundaries. If they aren’t willing to abide by previous agreements, why should Israel?
      Abbas represents no one, he’s been out of office for longer than his original term and he doesn’t control Gaza.
      As for not fearing the ICC, see the ICJ security barrier case, it was only an advisory ruling, clearly outside of it’s mandate and yet people carry on like it’s L.A.W. An ICC kangaroo court would be worse.
      As for “settlements” see UNSC 242, the Levy Report or try reading all of Geneva 4 Art 49 instead of select sentences.
      I bet when it comes to retaliation for the next act of Palestinian terror, like the recent bus bombing, the PA will claim it’s not a state.
      Israel has always been willing to negotiate, it doesn’t need a nudge, the Palestinians need new legitimate rational leaders. Not more publicity stunts.

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