...Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr's announcement in the heat of the current election campaign that Labor Party policy does not recognize the legal right of Jews to live in the "West Bank" - seems to have been hastily cobbled together without any serious discussion or consideration by the Labor Party.
Speaking at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney on 8 August at celebrations marking the end of Ramadan - Carr reportedly stated:
"... we say, unequivocally, all settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease. That is the position, of Kevin Rudd, the position of the Federal Labor Government, and we don't make apologies for it."
Carr's shock announcement has brought forth ... a blistering attack by Opposition Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.
Ms Bishop has released correspondence disclosing that Senator Carr did not seek any advice from the International Law Office within the Attorney General's Department - relying instead only on legal advice supplied by his own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - before committing Prime Minister Rudd and the Labor Party to the policy enunciated at the Lakemba Mosque.
DFAT legal advice ... failed to consider the relevance and applicability of article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter which preserves the right of Jews to live in the "West Bank" conferred on them by the Mandate.
...DFAT, Senator Carr, Prime Minister Rudd and the Labor Party were obviously unaware of a letter signed on 22 July by more than 1000 prominent international lawyers and politicians addressed to Baroness Catherine Ashton - High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission (EC).
In their letter the signatories asserted that Jews are legally entitled to live in the "West Bank" and questioned the relevance and the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israel's alleged occupation of the "West Bank".
The signatories stated:
"The long-held view of the EU as to the illegality of Israel’s settlements is a misreading of the relevant provisions of international law, and specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is neither relevant to the unique circumstances of Israel’s status in the area, nor was it ever applicable, or intended to apply to Israel’s circumstances in Judea and Samaria [The "West Bank"]"
Senator Carr needs to explain how he could "unequivocally " commit the Labor Party to a policy based on the Fourth Geneva Convention when its applicability had been thrown into grave doubt by the Ashton letter - and especially as no binding legal decision exists that supports the DFAT advice given to Carr.
But the signatories went even further in making it very clear that Jews had the legal right to live in Judea and Samaria:
"The legality of Israel’s presence in the area stems from the historic, indigenous and legal rights of the Jewish people to settle in the area, as granted in valid and binding international legal instruments recognized and accepted by the international community. These rights cannot be denied or placed in question. This includes the 1922 San Remo Declaration unanimously adopted by the League of Nations, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel (including the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem) as well as close Jewish settlement throughout.
"This was subsequently affirmed internationally in the League of Nations Mandate Instrument, and accorded continued validity, up to the present day, by Article 80 of the UN Charter which reaffirmed the validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). "
...Both Senator Carr and Mr Rudd have so far failed to disclose when the Labor Party adopted this contentious and controversial policy before it was announced at the Lakemba mosque.
While Senator Carr makes no apologies for this policy - the Labor Party has clearly not made its decision after carefully considering all the relevant international law dealing with the issue.
Repeating the mantra that Jewish settlements in the "West Bank" are illegal in international law ... was made on the run ...