Australia will no longer reflexively vote against Israel on settlement-related
votes in the UN, but rather judge each vote on its merits, the new
Liberal-National government of Tony Abbott
clarified in recent days.
the last month, Australia abstained on two annual anti-Israel resolutions, one
calling for an end to all settlement activities “in all of the occupied
territories,” and another calling on Israel to “comply scrupulously” with the
1949 Geneva Convention.
Under the Labor government that took power in
2007, Australia supported those resolutions.
In September, Australia
voted Labor out of office and voted in Abbott, who promised to restore the
Australian-Israeli friendship “to the strength it enjoyed under the [John]
Howard, of the Liberal- National Party, was
Australia’s prime minister from 1996 to 2007, an era of extremely close ties
between the two countries, and a period during which Australia did not vote for
these types of resolutions.
That changed when the Labor government came
to power and began changing Australia’s voting pattern.
Israeli official said, is moving the voting back to where it was in the
Israeli officials were both surprised and disappointed that
Australia abstained in the November 2012 General Assembly vote granting
non-member statehood status to the Palestinians.
Some attributed this to
Australia’s need to win votes for its bid – which was successful – to gain a
seat on the UN Security Council.
Australian Ambassador David Sharma told
The Jerusalem Post
that the abstentions this month were part of the new
government’s re-evaluation of how to vote in international forums on a wide
variety of issues.
“The government is looking at the issues with fresh
eyes,” he said.
Sharma said Canberra does not want to single out Israel
for condemnation in international forums.
“The positions we take are
designed to be constructive in supporting a two-state solution, instead of
political posturing.”The Australian
newspaper on Monday quoted Foreign
Minister Julie Bishop as saying the shift in voting “reflected the government’s
concern that Middle East resolutions should be balanced.”
will not support resolutions which are one-sided and which pre-judge the outcome
of final-status negotiations between the two sides,” she was quoted as saying
through a spokesperson.
Bob Carr, who was Australia’s foreign minister
under the Labor government, slammed the shift last week, writing in The Sydney
that settlers “occupy the favored terrain, draw three times as
much water per heat and use reserved infrastructure.”
argument with figures provided by Peace Now and a quote from the documentary The
, Carr concluded that it was a “shame” Australia shifted its vote,
and “that we stopped doing the right thing.”
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