30 December 2016

Australia: US and NZ are wrong on Israel

From The Australian, 30 Dec 2016, by Joe Kelly & Kylar Loussikian:

Image result for julie bishop

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has signalled that Australia likely would have broken with the US and New Zealand by ­opposing a UN Security Council resolution criticising Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Her revelation came as former foreign minister Bob Carr declared Donald Trump’s election could empower Israel to seize the West Bank, comments that will stir a growing debate within Labor about its ­position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ms Bishop yesterday said the Turnbull government remained “firmly committed to a two-state solution” and indicated that, had Australia been a member of the Security Council, it would not have supported last weekend’s controversial resolution that demanded an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.

“Australia is not currently a member of the UN Security Council and therefore not ­eligible to vote on UNSC resolutions,” Ms Bishop said.

“In voting at the UN, the ­Coalition government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.”

New Zealand was one of four countries that co-sponsored the vote. The US, which holds a veto vote in the UN Security Council, abstained.

Earlier, Mr Carr, an influential voice within NSW Labor’s dominant Right ­faction, said Mr Trump’s election could ­“unleash (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to approve a rash of new settlements and even annex the West Bank … that would destroy a two-state ­solution”.

“If that happened, nobody would be getting up at a (Labor) conference to shield a Trump-Netanyahu axis from the strongest criticism,” Mr Carr said.

His comments come as groundwork is laid for NSW Labor’s conference, due to be held in July, and follow sharp ­divisions in the US over its ­abstention from the UN vote.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech on Wednesday, again rebuked Mr Netanyahu, saying the West Bank was being “broken up into small parcels like a Swiss cheese that can never constitute a real state”.

Mr Carr’s comments follow a visit to Israel last week by Bill Shorten, who met and praised Mr Netanyahu but was criticised for spending only a few hours in the Palestinian territories.

Tensions within the NSW Right, formally known as Centre Unity, are expected to increase over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as policy committees begin to meet in February to discuss motions for the conference. Any toughening of the Right’s stand against Israel would represent a rebuke against the Opposition Leader, who enjoys the support of the faction.

Labor’s position recognises a commitment to a two-state ­solution, and notes “settlement building by Israel in the occupied territories that may undermine a two-state solution is a roadblock to peace”.

NSW Labor general secretary Kaila Murnain said the party’s position had been “unanimously ­supported” at the last conference. But that position followed months of negotiations in the NSW Right and Left and the wider party, at times including federal and state players including Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, frontbenchers Tony Burke, Jason Clare and Mark Dreyfus, state health spokesman Walt Secord, and Mr Carr. Those talks would make it more difficult for the party to change its policy again.

Some in the Right have raised concerns about Mr Shorten’s meetings with Israeli politicians, including Mr Netanyahu.State MP Shaoquett Moselmane, linking to a tweet from Mr Shorten’s account praising Mr Netanyahu as “a good friend of Australia”, said the Israeli leader should be tried for human rights violations.

In an email circulating among party members, a former candidate suggests the Queensland Labor Friends of Palestine and its partner body in NSW should work “to entrench the recognition of Palestine as federal Labor policy before the next federal election”. But Acting Opposition Leader Chris Bowen said Labor continued to support a two-state solution.