20 February 2017

Mr Netanyahu deserves a warm welcome to Australia.

From The Australian EDITORIAL, February 21, 2017:

...Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival tomorrow has prompted demands for Australian recognition of a Palestinian state. Kevin Rudd is the latest Labor figure to join the clamour, adding to the calls by Bob Hawke, Gareth Evans, Bob Carr and others for the Turnbull government to overturn its firm stand against unilateral recognition without a negotiated peace accord between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Rudd’s argument that... the moment has come to recognise Palestine is unconvincing. So is his contention that because 137 states at the UN have recognised Palestine as a state, it is “time for Australia to draw a line in the sand”. German Chancellor Angel Merkel says recognition would do nothing to advance an issue that must be resolved between the two sides.

Recognition would add to the delusions of Palestinian leaders that they can achieve statehood through the back door, using the UN as a conduit. Proponents of recognition overlook the reality that Palestine lacks the most fundamental prerequisites of statehood, including defined borders, which can be achieved only through a negotiated settlement with Israel — not shuffling documents around the UN.

Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are right in rejecting demands for Australian recognition. Doing so would reinforce the Palestinians’ past rejections of generous peace terms (in 2000, 2001 and 2008) and their refusal to return to the negotiating table. It would merely add another country to the list of those fostering the Palestinians’ absurd belief that they can achieve statehood without negotiating with the Israelis.

Donald Trump’s stated willingness to accept either a two-state or a one-state solution has injected a new element into the issue.

Rightly, Ms Bishop has committed Australia to supporting “an outcome that would see Israelis and Palestinians living side by side, within internationally recognised borders, in a peaceful and stable environment”. 

Mr Netanyahu is vital to hopes of achieving that goal. He deserves a warm welcome to Australia.