Fallout after Carr’s address to NSW Labor

July 31, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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The executive director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim has described some comments at the NSW Labor conference made by former Foreign Minister and NSW Premier Bob Carr as being “ignorant and disingenuous”.

Bill Shorten

Speaking on the ABC’s RN Breakfast today, Labor Bill Shorten said any recognition needed to address the concerns of both sides.”

Bill Shorten said: “There’s two issues, one is the legitimate aspirations, and I stress legitimate aspirations of Palestinians to have their own state and I do support that, but also the legitimate aspirations of the people of Israel to live in secure borders,” he said.

Mr Shorten has come under pressure to confirm his stance on the matter, after a motion was passed at the NSW Labor conference at the weekend calling for the next federal Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state.

He reiterated his support for federal Labor’s long-held position on a two-state solution.”If you support a two-state solution ultimately that includes recognition of Palestine,” Mr Shorten said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff commented: “This is a much better outcome than what was originally proposed in the conference booklet, and we applaud the efforts by many within the Labor Party who worked hard to achieve a more balanced resolution. As Michael Forshaw noted, 100 percent of Hamas still does not recognise Israel.”

Alhadeff singled out the efforts of Walt Secord MLC, former NSW Labor general secretary Eric Roozendaal, current general secretary Kaila Murnain, Mike Kelly MP, Michael Easson, Michael Forshaw and various other Labor identities “for their efforts in helping to arrive at a more sensible resolution”.

Peter Wertheim responds to this statement by Bob Carr

Delegates, this question of attaching conditions to recognition. Australia recognises 193 countries in the world. We don’t attach conditions to the 50 countries we recognise in Africa. We dont attach conditions to our recognition of Saudi Arabia or North Korea.  We recognise the United States, and it doesn’t lapse when they elect a President lacking in probity and lacking in sanity”.

Wertheim’s answer:  Of course we don’t impose conditions on the recognition of ALREADY-ESTABLISHED States, especially those with which we have long had diplomatic relations.   But when NEW STATES emerge, especially when they emerge out of a conflict, it is frequently the case that conditions are imposed on their recognition by other States.

For example, in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and their replacement by new states, the EU and other countries imposed a string of conditions on the recognition of those new states.  These are reproduced at 4 European Journal of International Law (1993), pp. 72-3: http://www.ejil.org/pdfs/4/1/1227.pdf

Peter Wertheim

The main condition was that those new states would enter into binding commitments that the conflicts in which they had been involved were at an end and that they would cease all hostile activity, INCLUDING hostile propaganda.  This was really important. The international community absolutely insisted that the recognition of the new states would mark the end of conflict and bloodshed, and not the beginning of more conflict and bloodshed.  The same conditions must be demanded of the Palestinians.

Former Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr

Further, customary international law itself demands that a proposed new state must fulfil certain minimum criteria before it can qualify as a State.  One requirement is that it have a government that is capable of enforcing law and order over the whole of its territory. The Palestinians don’t fulfil that requirement. They have two warring factions (the Palestinian Authority and Hamas) which control different parts of their claimed territory.  Even the Palestinian Authority’s own lawyer, Guy Goodwin-Gill, wrote in 2011 that there is no Palestinian entity which fulfils the legal requirements of statehood:

Until such a time as a final settlement is agreed, the putative State of Palestine will have no territory over which it exercises effective sovereignty, its borders will be indeterminate or disputed, its population, actual and potential, undetermined and many of them continuing to live under occupation or in States of refuge. While it may be an observer State in the United Nations, it will fall short of meeting the internationally agreed criteria of statehood, with serious implications for Palestinians at large, particularly as concerns the popular representation of those not currently present in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”  Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, ‘The Palestine Liberation Organization, the future State of Palestine, and the question of popular representation’, Legal Opinion dated 10 August 2011, para. 9.http://www.jmcc.org/documents/final-pdf-plo-statehood-opinionr-arb.pdf

The above quoted comments made by Bob Carr are at best ignorant and at worst disingenuous.  This kind of demagoguery and dumbing down of our foreign policy debate by a former foreign minister of Australia is to be deplored.”

President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Dr. Danny Lamm said this was a move “that is as confusing as it is disappointing because it seeks an outcome which the parties themselves need to be dealing with through diplomacy and not unilateral action, which is ironically counterproductive.”

Dr Lamm continued, “The essence of the issue is that the NSW Labor as well as State Labor Parties in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, are attempting to reward a criminal, fanatical, hate-inciting Palestinian leadership with recognition, without any sort of requirement on that leadership to demonstrate peaceful intentions. It is incredibly disappointing that fellow Australians led by the ALP should see this as a reasonable approach to the only democratic state in the Middle East, which has tried repeatedly to resolve the conflict to no avail.”

The ZFA noted that there have been a number of agreements between Israel and the Palestinians to work towards the goal of a two-state solution, and the Palestinian Authority has received a number of offers from Israel towards resolution of the conflict without any proper response.

While many are applauding the addition of the line that Labor “supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist within secure and recognised borders”, Dr. Danny Lamm said, “The wrong headedness of the motion and those die-hards who supported it despite all of the evidence that suggests any such State would be an abject failure is hardly ameliorated by the well worn sop of recognising Israel’s right to exist. Israel has existed for nigh on 70 years and its “right” to do so is not in question by anyone other than the Palestinian lobby that continues to chant for a State from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea and thus seek Israel’s destruction.  That will never occur and the sooner that they accept that fact the sooner they can expect to fulfil the necessary pre-conditions of recognition of their much longed for State.”

Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of  The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Said: While AIJAC continues to believe that resolutions prematurely calling for unilateral recognition of a ‘Palestinian state’ are problematic and unhelpful to advancing a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace, we are pleased that the proposed NSW ALP conference resolution was amended in a positive way prior to its passage. The new clause about the right of both peoples to live in states within ‘secure and recognised boundaries’ qualifies the original one-sided language. It is also more consistent with the existing bipartisan consensus in Australia calling for the core of our national policy approach to the conflict to be encouraging a genuine and lasting two-state peace through direct negotiations between the parties.

“Recognising ‘Palestine’ unconditionally and immediately would not only be inconsistent with international law – ‘Palestine’ does not meet the established criteria for statehood at present – and also effectively accord recognition to the Hamas terror groups which rule part of ‘Palestine’, but would reward the Palestinian leadership’s rejection of repeated viable Israeli peace offers and the Palestinian refusal in recent years to even negotiate. However, considering such recognition in the context of negotiated arrangements which provides both peoples with statehood “within secure and recognised boundaries” would be a very different matter – and we welcome the comments from Federal Labor leaders, including party leader Bill Shorten, which indicate they are well aware of this important difference.”

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the ADC, said: “The motion was an empty act of symbolism that is a setback for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and does not nothing to advance the process.

Yes, this resolution is a watered version of the original misguided and partisan motion crafted by Bob Carr, and the amended motion does Include Israel’s right to exist within secure borders. However, it is profoundly disappointing that this premature and counterproductive resolution urges the next Federal Labour government to “recognise Palestine”. In doing so, the NSW ALP conference has sent the message to the Palestinian Authority that it can skip the negotiating table and continue with its reckless tactics.

At present, the West Bank is ruled by the Palestinian Authority, and Gaza is governed by Hamas, a terrorist organization, openly committed to Israel’s destruction. Local authority is divided. What and where exactly is the ‘State of Palestine’ that the motion speaks about? Following today, there will be many who will question the ALP’s ability to play a diplomatic role in the quest for peace between the two parties, especially since the resolution seems to lay all the blame for the impasse at Israel’s feet and conveniently ignores the withdrawal from Gaza and successive conciliatory offers made by the Jewish state.”




3 Responses to “Fallout after Carr’s address to NSW Labor”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Of all statements quoted belonging to Australian Jewish leaders, only Dvir Abramovich either understood the essence of Bill Shorten’s and, actually, ALP’s official policy regarding the recognition of a palestinian state.
    Colin Rubinstein,Peter Wertheim and Vic Alhadef either have not been quoted comprehensively or, if they were, they were remiss – who knows why * – in acknowledging that Shorten and his ALP are clearly stating that ALP, if in power ( G-d forbid ) will, at once, no ifs or buts, recognise a palestinian state, seemingly as a “positive” factor in helping resolve the ME conflict. The flip side is that ALP believes also in Israel’s right to exist, to which one can only exclaim : ” Thank You Mr. ALP ,we, Israel couldn’t have made you without YOU !!”.
    Here we have not only a badly concocted duplicitous attitude by the ALP, in fact a policy tward Israel well entrenched in the post-Hawke ALP, but of more concern we have our own very Jewish communal leaders who practice quite a tasteless set of preeety double standards.
    The Carr “amendment” was still born, it had no traction it was, in fact, a non-event. Carr’s relevance lasted at the NSW ALP conference, in terms of consideration given by his own (sic) party a lot less than his actual speech.
    The apparent concern for the fate of the ALP with a Carr in it, as expressed by our own Messrs. Rubinstein, Wertheim and Alhadef is all but a difficult to ingest/digest gesture of worry for the fate of the ALP, now that Carr has been defeated, as presented here by our communal leaders who would like us to believe that now, Carr’s motion defeated, ALP is no longer an issue with Zionist concerns.
    My asterix on “who knows why” relates to me, at least, knowing too well that it is a fairly well known fact that we have been experiencing for decades in our community at leadership level what I’d term an uncomfortable at times ( quite often, actually ), a difficult to palate intimacy between genuine Jewish concerns and personal affections for the ALP by the some of the Jewish leaders.
    This Carr situation has just re-confirmed, has accentuated that “sentiment”.
    We need at this juncture clear, unambiguous attitudes by our longstanding Communal leaders in the face of an ALP determined as a whole to cause Israel serious harm by the clearly declared policy of the ALP to recognise a palestinian state , should ALP gain political power.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    Reading the Melbourne papers apparently the ALP Victoria Branch is the only state organization that does not have a position on Palestine like the other states.

    Victoria is the home of the ALP right with Shorten, Danby and Dreyfus.

    Apparently Carr and Dreyfus were good friends with Carr saying Dreyfus could be a future ALP leader but now they are not talking to each other, according to a newspaper.

  3. David Austin says:

    What hypocrisy of Carr to serve as foreign minister in a Labor governmemt while harboring such views. Is he a turncoat? Meretricious? It is hard to see how he could reconcile the views he now espouses with the policies of the Gillard government he served in. Maybe he is just a moral acrobat… or should I say contortionist.

    However you characterise his numerous public personae it is not easy to praise him.

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