Abbott’s Coalition reveals hostility to Palestinian statehood, By: Bob Carr

Abbott’s Coalition reveals hostility to Palestinian statehood

By Bob Carr

I am disappointed that Tony Abbott’s Coalition has attacked Labor’s decision to not oppose increased status to the Palestinian people when we voted on a resolution in the United Nations last week.

Liberal and National Party MPs’ attacks have been vicious. They have been full of antagonistic language and they’ve revealed a deep hostility to the Palestinians ever getting their own state.

The Liberal Party has undermined the long-standing, bipartisan position of the Australian Government to support a negotiated two state solution with a secure Israel living alongside a future independent Palestinian state.

This should have been an issue that both parties could agree on, but sadly Tony Abbott’s Coalition has used the Labor Party’s decision to smear and mislead.

Last week Senator Barnaby Joyce, Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, asked why the Australian Government was not voting against a resolution on Palestinian statehood in the UN “when its territory is currently controlled by groups that have at times denied Israel’s right to exist.”

Senator Joyce went on to ask: “What reassurances has the government received from the Palestinian Authority that there is no longer favour of a pan-Arab invasion of Israel?”

And he labelled a vote on Palestinian non-member state observer status at the UN as “oxymoronic”.

Senator Joyce has used extremist language to attack all Arabs who want peace as much as anybody.

He is attempting to stir up hate and strife because we, the Government, are not opposing a Palestinian state.

Voting against the Palestinian observer status resolution would have undermined Australia’s strong support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to self-determination and a state of their own.

The achievements of the Palestinian Authority towards statehood have been recognised by both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

These efforts have been strongly supported by the Australian Government, together with major countries around the world and led by the UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

Senator Joyce has undermined the tireless efforts of the Palestinian Authority to build the institutions and structures of statehood, but he is not the only one of Tony Abbott’s confidantes to do so.

Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg said “Palestinian observer status will undermine prospects for peace because it will embolden Hamas in the Gaza strip who in their own charter call for Israel’s destruction as well as giving heart to other radical groups in the West Bank who do not favour a negotiated and durable two State solution.”

The Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (Tony Abbott’s Deputy) has said “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.”

The fact is the question before the UN is seen as a referendum on whether the Palestinians will get their own state. That is why we resolved not to oppose it.

Of course, a vote in the UN is no substitute for real negotiations that produce the outcome that Palestinians desire so deeply, which is a negotiated two state solution made possible by a security guarantee by Israel recognising its right to exist.

But in the meantime we need to send a message of hope to people in the West Bank who have bravely decided they want to take a peaceful path to achieving their own state.

The decision of the UN clears the air.


Copyright 2007