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Australian Labor Party commits to recognizing Palestine

Opinion
on 19 Comments

In Australia we have a significant lobbying force for the Palestinian position within the political sphere. The Australian Palestinian Advocacy Network (APAN) is quite active and effective at running campaigns to highlight the plight of Palestinians. For example, they have had great success with a campaign entitled No Way to Treat a Childwhich chronicled the conditions under which Palestinian children are convicted and incarcerated in military tribunals.

Along with elder statesman and former Foreign Minister Bob Carr, APAN has also been lobbying for recognition of the state of Palestine within the Australian Labor Party (ALP). The Labor Party is in opposition in the Australian parliament to the ruling center-right Coalition bloc, of Liberal and National party members.

Two weeks ago on December 16 to 18, the ALP held its triennial national conference in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Persistent efforts to engage with senior members of the current ALP parliamentary group appear to be having results. APAN is a very diverse group. On the executive board are a retired Anglican Bishop, Palestinians of both Muslim and Christian heritage, secularists and a professor of Jewish background. They all participated in efforts leading up to the conference as this is the arena where policy positions are debated and then adopted.

To attract further attention to the cause I undertook another long range advocacy walk to highlight the unequal treatment of Palestinians. From November 18 to December 16, the walk covered a distance of 458 miles (starting in Melbourne and finishing in Adelaide). Many MPs and Senators greeted our arrival in Adelaide. The arrival was specifically planned to coincide with opening date of the ALP conference.

Bob Carr was overseas during the conference but made an address via video.

Delegates to the conference would also have been aware of support for recognition by former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd and another long serving Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans.

There is still strong support for Israel within the ALP but those members who are fed up with continued settlement expansion have grown, and now outnumber those members who remain loyal to Israel whatever it does.

On the final day of the conference, the new motion on Palestine was put forward by the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong. The motion was seconded by Tony Burke (a senior ALP figure who since entering Parliament in 2004 is the only member of the Federal Parliament to have always served as either a minister or shadow minister).

The resolution passed unanimously, albeit with an edit in the language substituting “immediate” recognition for an independent state of Palestine to a downgraded “important priority.”


The breakthrough resolution commits the party to recognize Palestine. Timing of recognition will be decided by Cabinet, though it is described as an important priority.Although this move by a future Australian government may be of little practical impact for the beleaguered Palestinians in their day to day struggle with their military occupation, the strategic implications are enormous for Israel. Will more nations follow Australias move?

All this happens in the context of upcoming elections in May 2019 where opinion polls have consistently put Labor ahead of the center-right Liberal-National Coalition in a run-off. The latest news poll from December 7 shows a swing to Labor of 4.5 percent indicating they would win 89 of the 150 seats in Parliament.

How will Israel respond?

Australia has traditionally been one of the planets most unequivocal supporters of everything Israel does. It often votes with the U.S. and Israel against motions condemning Israel at the United Nations, including being one of only six countries that voted no to a resolution put up by Ireland on December 7. Moreover, this month the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, though it will not move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Interesting days ahead.

John Salisbury
About John Salisbury

John Salisbury lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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19 Responses

  1. Kay24
    Kay24 on January 1, 2019, 7:54 pm

    It seems many countries have a hard time doing the right thing for human rights, democracy, and justice. The zionist lobbies are busy down under too. It is time politicians and leaders settled this decades old problem, and do the right thing.

  2. RoHa
    RoHa on January 2, 2019, 12:06 am

    The ALP is a bunch of incompetent, woolly-minded, half-wits. However, this time they do seem to be taking a step in the right direction.

    This is encouraging, since there is a good chance that, after the next election, they will take over the government from the incompetent, scummy, ratbags who are the current government.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus on January 2, 2019, 11:21 am

      RoHa,

      Aside from the potential this discussion about “recognizing” the pseudo-state of Vichy has, in terms of helping some people understand a couple of simple concepts, I can’t for the life of me see how establishing a fraction of a quasi-Bantustan as if it were a legitimate state is “in the right direction”.

      The diametrical opposite, in fact, as it makes official the murderous fiction of some kind of independence or agency on the part of Zionist-occupied Palestine. It also serves to propagate the fiction among the clueless.

      The fact that there is a good-cop-bad-cop game going on between the Zionist entity diehards and the mostly Western liberals, with the purpose of legitimating this “recognition” nonsense, is not a reason to support one faction as if this were helping Palestinian resistance. Just to try another historical comparison, I’m sure the Nazi government would have been delighted at the “recognition” of the Vichy zone by the Allies.

      • Eric
        Eric on January 3, 2019, 11:54 am

        Echi is right, of course. Furthermore, the language is laughable: at the first whiff of Zionist pressure, they change “immediate” recognition with “important priority.” Right up there with gender equality and aboriginal rights. This resolution has no teeth and the Labourites have no balls!

      • RoHa
        RoHa on January 3, 2019, 8:13 pm

        “This resolution has no teeth and the Labourites have no balls!”

        Don’t be cruel. They’re pollies. Saying this much exhausted their stock of courage.

    • RoHa
      RoHa on January 3, 2019, 12:14 am

      I see your point, echinococcus.

      However, I also see that this is a public acknowledgement that the Palestinians do, in fact, have some rights.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus on January 3, 2019, 10:47 am

        RoHa,

        “I also see that this is a public acknowledgement that the Palestinians do, in fact, have some rights.”

        To use a French calque, it goes without saying. I’m questioning the balance between that relative advantage and the deep harm.

    • Shingo
      Shingo on January 3, 2019, 12:26 am

      The ALP is a bunch of incompetent, woolly-minded, half-wits.

      True but that Liberals are in such disarray, they are making the ALP look credible. The position of the Liberal party on Israel/Palestine is no different to that of the GOP

      • RoHa
        RoHa on January 3, 2019, 8:11 pm

        “True but that Liberals are in such disarray, they are making the ALP look credible.”

        Credible? I would say “slightly less repellent than the Coalition”.

  3. Misterioso
    Misterioso on January 2, 2019, 10:32 am

    Good news!!

    Gradually, but most certainly, all peoples around the world, including Americans and Jews everywhere, especially youth, are comprehending what a murderous, expansionist monster “Israel” really is. Along with the Internet, it is the great efforts of Mondoweiss and other pro-Palestinian organizations that are bringing this about.

    WE HAVE THE MOMENTUM!! The Zionist leadership is in panic mode. “Israel” is also increasingly becoming an unbearable financial and geopolitical liability for the U.S.

  4. genesto
    genesto on January 2, 2019, 2:53 pm

    Hard to get excited about this. Essentially, the ALP is taking a liberal Zionist position by advocating for a two-state solution. Better to deal with the current government of ardent Zionists who, like their counterparts elsewhere, are at least honest in their outright racist view of the Palestinians.

    • RoHa
      RoHa on January 3, 2019, 12:15 am

      “Better to deal with the current government of ardent Zionists who, like their counterparts elsewhere, are at least honest in their outright racist view of the Palestinians.”

      And what benefit has dealing with them brought?

  5. Mayhem
    Mayhem on January 5, 2019, 8:26 pm

    There was so much angst and noises from Labor about the current PM’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (bloody obvious) and complaints that the final status of Jerusalem is supposed to be left to the parties (Israelis and Palestinians) to negotiate and decide.
    Yet Labor contemplates a unilateral recognition of the state of Palestine, the status of which is also supposed to be negotiated.
    The hypocrisy is deafening.

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer on January 6, 2019, 12:22 am

      @mayhem

      No it’s not hypocrisy. At the end of the day Palestinians deserve their own fully functional or the right to an equal, 1p1v, say in Israel.

      It is hypocrisy to recognize Israel but not Palestine.

      It is hypocrisy to recognize Israel’s unilateral actions wrt Jerusalem or the occupied territories as valid.

      From the moment of the declaration of independence to the present day it has been about Israel trying to legotimize it’s legacy of illegal unilateral action.

      They are illegal. They have been adjudicated as illegal. They were warned they were illegal by their own advisors.

      Rogue state supported by those who favour criminality to feather their own nest.

    • Talkback
      Talkback on January 6, 2019, 5:21 am

      Mayhem: “Yet Labor contemplates a unilateral recognition of the state of Palestine, the status of which is also supposed to be negotiated.”

      The existence or recognition of the State of Palestine itself is not a final status issue unlike refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with neighbours and Jerusalem.

      Mayhem: “The hypocrisy is deafening.”

      Have it your way. Let’s rescind the unilateral recognition of the state of Israel and make it’s existence or recognition a final status issue, too.

    • Mayhem
      Mayhem on January 6, 2019, 9:09 pm

      @oldgeezer & Talkback, wake up to the reality of the Oslo Accords.

      ‘In 1994 Faisal al-Husseini, the senior P.L.O. leader in the West Bank, said the accord provided “the first stage for a Palestinian state.”

      “I would hope that it would be a bigger first step,” he said, “but it is the beginning.”

      In fact it marks the first time the Palestinians will be in charge of their own affairs in recent history. The Israelis, while permitting such autonomy, are still not enthusiastic about the idea of a Palestinian state.”‘

      And Rabin said:
      “at this stage I do not want to deal with the permanent solution,” adding: “We do not accept the Palestinian goal of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan. We believe there is a separate Palestinian entity short of a state.”

      Refer MIDEAST ACCORD: THE OVERVIEW; RABIN AND ARAFAT SIGN ACCORD ENDING ISRAEL’S 27-YEAR HOLD ON JERICHO AND THE GAZA STRIP

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer on January 7, 2019, 9:38 am

        @Mayhem
        “We believe there is a separate Palestinian entity short of a state.””

        Yep apartheid.

        Sharon reportedly told a French diplomat he preferred the bantustan model.

      • Talkback
        Talkback on January 7, 2019, 9:43 am

        Mayhem: “@oldgeezer & Talkback, wake up to the reality of the Oslo Accords.”

        What’s your point? The question was if the existence of a Palestinians state was a final status issue or not. You don’t have to tell us that Zionists lie, when they are talking about a two-state-solution. There is a difference between a real democracy and a “Jewish” democracy as there is a difference between a two-state-solution and a “Jewish” definition of a Palestinian “state” which has never been anything else than a bantustan construct.

        Israel’s goal was only to modify the occupation and claim that it is not longer one when Palestinians have a pseudo autonomy and play statehood.

  6. Ossinev
    Ossinev on January 7, 2019, 7:32 am

    @Mayhem
    “We do not accept the Palestinian goal of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan. ”

    Yup even the great so called ” man of peace ” was a great fan of Bantustans:
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181108-shattering-the-myth-of-rabin-as-the-man-of-peace/

    Absolutely hilarious that someone who was basically a Fascist in sheeps clothing is seen and revered in various circles as some sort of Zionist Gandhi.

    Tick tick

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