Reaction to Penny Wong Palestine speech

December 18, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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 Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, the ECAJ, the Zionist Federation of Australia and AIJAC have reacted to Senator’s speech at the ALP national conference calling for the next Labor government to work to recognise a Palestinian state.

Senator Eric Abetz

The motion just passed at Labor’s National Conference moved by Penny Wong no less that would see a future Labor Government unilaterally recognise a Palestinian State exposes the extreme hypocrisy of Labor on the recognition of West Jerusalem and once again highlights how Mr Shorten lacks authority within the Labor Party.

“Which of the two deeply opposing groups is Labor going to recognise? The Palestinian Authority which hasn’t had an election in 12 years and which Australia no longer trusts with foreign aid or Hamas, a registered terrorist organisation,” Senator Abetz said who is both Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Chair of the Australia-Israel Friendship Group

“The rank hypocrisy of Labor to criticise the Government’s proper and careful consideration of recognising Israel’s capital all the while planning to back this highly controversial and inappropriate motion is galling and highlights Labor’s credibility gap in foreign policy.”

“The fact that Labor is now saying that they would seek to unwind the recognition of Israel’s capital and substitute their own choice on Israel, unilaterally recognise a Palestinian State and then shovel tens of millions of dollars in aid to less than reputable Palestinian organisations which call for the destruction of Israel is a deeply troubling shift.”

“Further, the fact that Bill Shorten has said for months that such a motion wouldn’t be passed and now his Senate Leader has personally backed it raises further serious questions about his authority and standing within the Labor Party.”

“Israel has proven itself to be the only free and democratic nation in the Middle East and Labor’s willingness to back either the undemocratic PA or the terrorists in Hamas over those who share our values is another very disturbing insight into what a Shorten Labor Government would look like,” Senator Abetz concluded.

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) believes that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state is counterproductive to bringing about a two-state solution and peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, the adopted resolution at the Australian Labor Party’s national conference to seek unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State was disappointing. However, we are pleased that the adopted resolution is not binding on a future Labor Government and defers the decision to recognise a Palestinian state to a future Labor Cabinet.

Jeremy Leibler

We acknowledge comments made by Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, which reinforced the ALP’s long-term commitment to a two-state solution and supports Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognised borders.

The ZFA also notes with appreciation the efforts made by senior Opposition MPs and the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue in the lead up to the conference.

Jeremy Leibler, ZFA President said: “The adopted resolution, which ultimately defeated attempts to bind a future Labor Government, is a firm rejection of efforts by Bob Carr and others to undermine over 70 years of bipartisan support for Israel in Australia. We are confident that under Bill Shorten’s leadership, the Labor party will remain a friend of Israel and the Jewish community”.

“The reality is that the basic criteria of statehood have not been met by the Palestinians. Therefore, unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state outside of a negotiated peace agreement would constitute a tacit endorsement of the terrorist organisation Hamas and would be a retrograde step in the peace process.”

“The only path to peace is for the Palestinian leadership to resume negotiations with the Israeli government in good faith. Failing to impose any preconditions to the recognition of a Palestinian state imposes pressure only on Israel and discourages both parties from making any compromises.” Mr Leibler concluded.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has responded to the resolution on the Israel-Palestinian conflict which was passed today by the ALP National Conference, and to recent statements made by ALP leaders concerning recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Anton Block

ECAJ President Anton Block and co-CEOs, Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin stated: “Whilst the ALP National Conference resolution falls a long way short of the immediate and unconditional recognition of a Palestinian State which some sections of the ALP have been advocating for several years, and will not be binding on any future Labor government, the tenor of resolutions passed at recent ALP conferences has been in that direction.

Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State can only act as a disincentive, rather than an encouragement, to Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations, in effect pre-empting the outcome of one of the key issues to be negotiated.

In contrast, recognising that Israel’s seat of government is located in the western part of Jerusalem, which is incontestably sovereign Israeli territory, does not in any way impact upon or pre-empt the future status of the contested eastern and other parts of the city captured by Israel in 1967. The ALP’s announcement that, in government, it would reverse Australia’s recent recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was therefore hasty and ill-advised.

The ALP National Conference resolution calling for recognition of a Palestinian State overlooks the reality that no Palestinian entity presently exists which meets even the most minimal of the legal and practical criteria for statehood – a government capable of exercising control over its people and territor, and delivering on international agreements.

To the ALP’s credit, and thanks to the leadership of ALP leader Bill Shorten, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and their colleagues Richard Marles, Mark Dreyfus, Mike Kelly and Michael Danby among others, the goal of a just and lasting two-state resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict remains embedded in the ALP policy platform, and this continues to represent the bipartisan consensus in Australia.

Nevertheless, it is a misguided approach by advocates of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state to place the onus exclusively on Israel for the impasse in achieving a two-State resolution of the conflict, and does nothing to encourage the Palestinian leadership to remedy their obvious shortcomings and to act as a responsible government. Instead, it rewards them for their failures.

Further, Palestinian organisations have appalling records on the rights of women, LGBTIQ people and workers. The Hamas attitude towards Israel and its Jewish citizens is openly genocidal, as its notorious Charter makes all too clear.

We look forward to continuing to work constructively with Bill Shorten and his parliamentary colleagues to find ways by which Australia can contribute meaningfully to a two-State outcome, based on an honest understanding of the realities of the conflict in all their tragic complexity.

We look forward to continuing to work constructively with Bill Shorten and his parliamentary colleagues to find ways by which Australia can contribute meaningfully to a two-State outcome, based on an honest understanding of the realities of the conflict in all their tragic complexity.”

Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones said that the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council strongly agrees with the principle of negotiations aimed at achieving a peaceful, secure future for Israelis and Palestinians, and on that basis is concerned at parts of the resolution adopted by the Australian Labor Party’s National Conference.

The resolution, which is not binding on the Parliamentary Party, is a hindrance and not a help to Israelis and Palestinians who genuinely seek a positive coexistence.

The ALP Platform, which was not amended at the Conference, highlights the importance of negotiations. The resolution, however, contains elements which undermine the concept of a negotiated peace based on mutual recognition, which in turn is essential to long-term peaceful coexistence.

AIJAC supports moves which will help bring a two-state solution closer. AIJAC believes responsible actors should support moves to encourage conciliation and confidence-building, not unilateralism.

There has never been a “State of Palestine” and there is no existing entity which could logically be “recognised”. The only realistic prospect for a such a state to emerge is through the process of negotiation with Israel.

As Shadow Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong noted in her December 15 media release regarding the Morrison Government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, “a final status issue… should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations and two-state solution.”

Recognition of a Palestinian state is the quintessential final status issue.

Urging a future Australian government to unilaterally recognise a putative State of Palestine, in defiance of the position of Israel and almost all of our Western allies, rewards Palestinian intransigence and would negatively impact the potential for success of future negotiations. As such, it can only and further delay an Israeli-Palestinian peace outcome based on two states for two peoples living side-by-side in secure and recognised boundaries.

AIJAC notes that Senator Wong, in her remarks accompanying the resolution, promised that Labor “will continue to ensure that any [future] decision we take contributes to peaceful resolution of the conflict and to progress towards a two-state solution.”

Unilateral “recognition” of a non-existent State of Palestine is simply out of keeping with this noble commitment.



3 Responses to “Reaction to Penny Wong Palestine speech”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    This is just the start, the crack to fall through, despite the nice things said of Bill Shorten et al in regard to their equable intentions. Labor is going the way of left-wing international bias against Israel, and has been for some years. We have nothing to look forward to insofar as fair consideration is concerned, where truth and reality matter most.

  2. Leon Poddebsky says:

    The Labor Party champions of egalitarian socialism and anti-imperialism are happy for Arabs to rule an empire that covers over 99% of the territory of the Middle East, but begrudge the Jews a minuscule state. (Ignore their hypocritical hollow rhetoric about being “friends of Israel.”)

    Never forget the indelible Labor pronouncement, delivered with typical savagery, that “Israel is a rogue state” and Ariel Sharon is “an unindicted war criminal.”
    That is the true face of the Labor Party.

  3. Leon Poddebsky says:

    The Labor party was not content with merely passing a resolution that in essence is hostile to Israel, but made outrageously mendacious assertions against Israel.

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