Rudd Addresses United Nations

September 23, 2011 by  
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Australian Foreign Minister has addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Here is what he had to say on the Israel-Palestine situation….

”]Following his address, Rudd faced the media. The questions and answers follow his address.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s Address to the UN.

Twelve months ago we had no expectation of change in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya.

But we did hope to see progress in the historic process to bring permanent peace to the peoples of Israel and Palestine.

Sadly, there has been no progress.

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

Over the last ten months, I have travelled three times to both Jerusalem and Ramallah where I have met on each occasion with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.

I have urged both parties to engage in direct negotiations.

I have argued that these should occur on the basis of the 1967 boundaries plus appropriate land swaps.

I have argued that the remaining final status issues on the right to return, the status of Jerusalem, the Holy Sites and the provision of external security be resolved through these direct negotiations.

My fear is that if we do not see these matters concluded in the near term, the rapidly changing geo-politics of the region will make the prospects of a lasting settlement remote.

We have already seen tensions between Israel and Egypt.

We have already seen the fracturing of the relationship between Israel and Turkey.

We do not know how long the current framework of the Arab Peace Plan will remain on the table.

We are fearful of a further intifada of the type we have seen before.

As a friend of Israel, we are fearful that in the absence of a negotiated settlement, Israel’s security situation will rapidly deteriorate in the year ahead.

As a friend of the Palestinian people, we believe the time has come for direct negotiations to establish a Palestinian state, and one which guarantees the security of Israel.

If we fail to achieve this, I fear the gravity of the consequences as the ground continues to change across the wider Middle East.

An Israeli and Palestinian state, living side by side, would result in diplomatic recognition across the Arab world. It would create an economic market of 350 million people from which the Jewish and Arab peoples could prosper.

And diplomatically and strategically, it would bring the focus to bear exclusively on the primary threat to regional security – namely Iran, its nuclear program and its support for terrorist organisations.

Australia therefore urges both parties to seize the day and to shape the future of a new Middle East.  We await the outcome from the weeks that lie ahead in New York before framing our response to any particular resolution before the United Nations.

The Israel-Palestinian portion of the media conference…

JOURNALIST:  Can I ask you two foreign policy questions. One is, on the issue of Palestine, it’s a big thing tomorrow, Mahmoud Abbas will speak – obviously you’re not on the Security Council – but in the GA, on the vote to make them an observer state, how would Australia vote and why?

And also I know there is a request to have Sri Lanka removed from the Commonwealth on the basis of this war crimes report that emanates here from the UN. What do you think of it in terms of the Commonwealth is that an appropriate move to bring about accountability?


KEVIN RUDD: Let me go to Israel-Palestine first – this obviously constituted a significant part of my address just now to the General Assembly.

We in Australia take these matters seriously because we have both Jewish and Palestinian and broader Arab communities in our country. Also, at a level of foreign policy, as I indicated in my address, I’ve been into and out of the region at least three or four times over the last nine to twelve months.  I’ve had long discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu, long discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, which I also did again this morning here in New York.

Our position is very simple. It is that we need to ensure that this two state solution is delivered through direct negotiations between the two parties.

Secondly, we believe that such direct negotiation should occur on the basis of the 1967 boarders plus appropriate and agreed land swaps.

Furthermore, we believe that the other final status issues concerning the right to return, concerning the status of Jerusalem, concerning the holy sites as well as appropriate external security guarantees, should be concluded within those direct negotiations.

There is a further point that I want to make, and that is, from the point of view of Israel’s national security interests it is important also to reflect carefully on the changing geopolitics of the Middle East.

I referred just before to the deterioration in relations between Egypt and Israel – the recent fire fight across the border; the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo; the burning of flags, and recent statements about questioning the future of the peace treaty between Cairo and Egypt and Israel – this is a significant development. If you follow the history of the Middle East, and the impact which the Egyptian Israeli peace agreement has had on overall stability in the region for the better part of thirty years, these are significant developments, as are the deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel as well as other problems in the wider region as well. Can I say this: unless we can secure an outcome through direct negotiations soon, I do fear for the consequences in terms of a spiralling of violence.

Furthermore, can I say that if we do secure an agreement, let us consider what lies on the positive side of the equation.

One, according to the Arab Peace plan, automatic recognition of the state of Israel by the Arab world.

Two, on top of that, you have the opening of hundreds of millions of people who live in the Arab world as natural markets for Israeli goods and services – good for the Israeli economy, good for the Arab economies.

And three, if the question of Palestine is finally put to rest through delivering to the Palestinian people an independent homeland, with secure borders alongside an independent, secure Israel, then the strategic focus of the Middle East then ends up where it ultimately, truly belongs – and that is, focusing on the threat to the region represented by Iran, Iran’s support for terrorist organisations and the Iranian nuclear program.


On the question of any resolution to the Security Council or General Assembly, the first thing is to say that it remains uncertain as to if and when the resolution reaches the General Assembly, and that is based upon my discussions with multiple parties to these discussions over the course of the last several days.


Australia will, as the Prime Minister has indicated back in Australia, review the content of any such resolution based on its merits, and the reason why it’s impossible to speculate effectively at this stage as to what our vote might be is because it may well be that in the course of the month or so ahead, that the content of any such resolution changes and changes potentially significantly.


You mentioned also I think Sri Lanka – a word on that. On the question of human rights, the Commonwealth takes seriously its human rights credentials. Member states of the Commonwealth have watched carefully developments in Sri Lanka over the course of the last one to two years. We’re acutely conscious of the report delivered by the United Nations. We are acutely conscious of the fact that the Sri Lankan government has established a commission itself in terms of its response to recent developments in Sri Lanka. We have said repeatedly and to the Sri Lankan government, that it is important that report deal with many of the issues, or the core issues which are raised in the UN report. That is, we believe, fundamental.


Furthermore, there will be many conversations still to be had between other Commonwealth member countries and Sri Lanka in the days and weeks ahead and we will continue to work our way through these issues. As I said, the next step in this process by and large lies with the content of the Lessons Learned report from the Sri Lankan’s themselves, and the effectiveness of their response to the many issues raised by the UN report.


JOURNALIST:  Mr Rudd, you started off by saying that democracy is imperfect, and the United Nations. Hillary Clinton and President Obama have both said that the way to settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not in New York but surely the very purpose of the United Nations is to resolve issues like this. Why hasn’t it been raised before?


KEVIN RUDD:  Well, I think there are many answers to that and at various stages in the history of this dispute going back to 1947, there has been a lack of political will on the part of various parties to bring this to conclusion.


I believe the time is now closing in on us to reach conclusion. As the President of the United States said, what happens on the ground in effective and real negotiations on these five critical final status issues is fundamental.


But let us also be clear of the fact that negotiations which occur in and around the United Nations in New York are not irrelevant to those dynamics. We will watch carefully what unfolds here, as I said we are in the deepest consultation with those associated with the Quartet process as well as the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority as well. This is a serious issue. It needs effective resolution. And I’ve just outlined before what could happen if we actually get a landing point. And every ounce of diplomatic energy which this Foreign Minister has and given the extent of Australia’s engagement on these matters will be directed towards that outcome. The critical thing though is the two parties themselves. I would urge both parties to enter those two way negotiations on the basis that I outlined before.


JOURNALIST:  On Israel, in speaking to Mr Abbas today, did you come away with anything positive from those talks with Mr Abbas? And second, these persistent reports that numbers are building for you to return to the Labor leadership, is that so, and if not, are you going to ask Labor back benchers to lay off? Is your support for Prime Minister Gillard unconditional until the next election?


KEVIN RUDD: You’ll be surprised to know that this was not a feature of my conversation with Mahmoud Abbas. I think Mahmoud Abbas had other priorities on his mind, and rightly so.

The discussions I’ve had with President Abbas are not the first, and I’m sure they won’t be the last. We’ve met on many, many occasions, as I’ve met Prime Minister Netanyahu on many occasions. Obviously they are following developments closely in terms of the drafting by the Quartet on the way forward to the Middle East peace process and they are also considering the most recent proposal by President Sarkozy of France which was articulated in the General Assembly yesterday. So, what I detect from the Palestinian Authority is a cautious wait and see approach as to the way forward. But it would be irresponsible to comment on the precise content of diplomatic conversations with you.



4 Responses to “Rudd Addresses United Nations”
  1. david singer says:

    Mr Rudd states:
    “Secondly, we believe that such direct negotiation should occur on the basis of the 1967 boarders (sic)plus appropriate and agreed land swaps.”

    My comment:

    1. There are no 1967 borders – only 1949 armistice lines. How our FM can make such a gaffe is beyond me. An armistice line is not – and never has been – a border. It marks where Israel and Jordan and Israel and Egypt stopped fighting in 1948 – nothing more, nothing less.

    2.He is saying that Australia will not in future accept Security Council Resolution 242 as the only binding resolution on the parties for resolving the Jewish-Arab conflict – which includes all States in the region.

    “Secure and recognized boundaries” are the key words of 242 that Mr Rudd wants to throw to the wind.

    If he thinks secure borders that can be achieved by swapping 100 sq kilometers of land for 100 sq kilometers of land he is living in cuckoo land.

    Canvassing for a seat on the UN Security Council – Mr Rudd obviously thinks ignoring Security Council Resolutions can gain Australia far more votes than insisting Security Council resolutions be respected and observed. Given the UN track record he is probably right.

    However I would expect any Australian Government to reject such a proposition and not sell its soul to the devil. Is that the level to which Australia is sinking?

  2. Eric Peters says:

    God gave Israel a magnificent victory in 1967 in 6 days. Hold your nerve in the face of current adversity Israel, and remember Who fights for you.
    “If My people who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray, and turn from all wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven…and heal their land.”
    The pressure on us all currently, is to remember our Source of supply and invoke His Supernatural intervention.
    We could well spend all day tearing down political figures…they are just men…lets set our hearts to pray for them like never before, without prejudice, and hang all on our Mighty Deliverer…we are not wrestling with men but spiritual wickedness in high places…We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and our beloved Israel…amen.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd made me ashamed of being Australian. This is what real leadership should NOT be like. Nothing realistic, honest, with the slightest tangent on facts and very transparent belligerant policies of all things Palestinian that ambitious and vain Mr. Rudd seems to have acknowledged. No considerations based on reality from our Mr. Rudd as he insinuates that the status of Jerusalem, for example, should be included in the peace negotiations, or, similarly, the palestinian rights to return to a land which does NOT belong to them etc.
    Rudd’s angles on Australia’s forreign policy vis a vis the ME, are a drastic departure from the traditional position on Israel since the foundation of the JEWISH State. Rudd is anything BUT Australian in this respect, but all personal agenda. Yet, in the larger picture, Rudd DOES represent “his” Government and, as such, Australian Labor has itself betrayed the same tradition of full support for Israel. Numbers at the UN aside, the very details of the foreign policy of the current Government matter.For those Jewish communal leaders, most of whom are loyal Laborites, the clear, MOST transparent departure of their political Party choice from solid pro Israel policy has been a reality they have been keen to deny. It is seriously doubtful that a firmer Jewish communal leadership stance with the Australian Government would have made any difference to Labor’s foreign policy on Israel, but we, the communal “electorate”, deserve a much better service from our elected leaders !!!

  4. Paige says:

    Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd made me proud to be Australian! This is what real leadership is about – a realistic plan for Middle East peace. Generations of children in the Middle East will be forever in his debt! ….he brings to life the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child….all children deserve to be raised in peace.

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