A Hebrew and English sign is seen at the entrance to the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 16, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Three days after Australia’s Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Canberra recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the rival Labor party at its national conference called for recognition of a Palestinian state.
The motion, which passed on a voice vote, is not binding. The resolution said that the conference “supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognized borders,” and “calls on the next Labor Government to recognize Palestine as a state.”
The resolution added that it expects that “this issue will be an important priority for the next Labor government.” The party is currently led by Bill Shorten. Elections must be held by May.
Labor’s shadow foreign minister Penny Wong, who introduced the motion, said it is important “because we, in Labor, not only deal with the world as it is, we seek to change it for the better.”
Wong was among the leading voices in Labor who decried Morrison’s recognition of west Jerusalem on Saturday.
“Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in government would reverse this decision. The status of Jerusalem can only be resolved as part of any peace negotiations and two-state solution,” she said.
Israel’s foreign Ministry had no comment on the Labor Party decision, apparently not wanting to get into a public fight with a party that very well might return to power.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the representative organization of some 200 Jewish groups in the country, released a statement saying that recognition of a Palestinian state would be a “disincentive, rather than an encouragement,” for Israel and the PA to resume talks, “in effect preempting the outcome of one of the key issues to be negotiated.”
The statement further said that the recognition resolution “overlooks the reality that no Palestinian entity presently exists which meets even the most minimal of the legal and practical criteria for statehood – a government capable of exercising control over its people and territory, and delivering on international agreements.”
And Jeremy Leibler, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, stressed in a statement that the motion is not binding on the next government.
“The adopted resolution, which ultimately defeated the attempt to bind a future Labor government, is a firm rejection of efforts by [former foreign minister] Bob Carr and others to undermine over 70 years of bipartisan support for Israel in Australia,” he said. “We are confident that under Bill Shorten’s leadership, the Labor party will remain a friend of Israel and the Jewish community.”
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