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Recognising Palestine ‘in Australia’s interests’, envoy says, as federal Labor hoses down NSW push

Recognising Palestine ‘in Australia’s interests’, envoy says, as federal Labor hoses down NSW push

01 August 2017 in 2017
palestinian ambassador izzat

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The Palestinian terroritories' envoy to Australia says a two-state solution is needed ‘urgently’ to limit the spread of global terrorism from the Middle East.

Australia has a moral obligation as a global “middle power” to recognise Palestinian statehood, the Palestinian territories' envoy to Australia has said, urging Bill Shorten to back a NSW Labor motion supporting unconditional recognition.

Izzat Abdulhadi, the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Australia and the Pacific, said he was confident the federal Labor party would join the majority of state branches and vote in favour of recognition at next year’s federal conference.

“Australia is becoming a middle power, Australia has forces in Syria and Iraq,” Mr Abdulhadi told SBS World News.

“Australia is interested in the global issues in the Middle East now, the terrorism and counter-terrorism issue. It’s in the best interests of Australia, actually, to solve this problem.”

Carr: Palestinian issue a 'weeping sore' 

NSW Labor passed a resolution over the weekend urging federal Labor to support the “unconditional” recognition of a Palestinian state.

The move, championed by former NSW Premier and former federal foreign minister Bob Carr, brings NSW in line with the majority of state Labor branches, with only Victoria yet to pass any resolution.

Mr Carr said permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians meant two states living side by side with recognised and secure borders.

"And in that context it makes common sense to recognise Palestine as we recognise Israel," Mr Carr told SBS World News.

But the "weeping sore" that was the Palestinian issue could be exploited by murderous jihadists to recruit gullible youngsters, he added.

"The unresolved problem of Palestine is a recruiting tool for murderous jihadists and I think a Palestinian state is just on its own terms to remove that ground for recruitment."

Mr Carr said the majority of Labor's rank and file members agreed on recoginising Palestine.

"If the occupation goes on and the West Bank is incorporated through settlements into the territory of Israel then you’re going to have the Israelis, an ethnic minority in the West Bank, running controlling a majority Arab population," he said.

"And three former Israeli prime ministers have said that’s apartheid, and that’s a horror we want to avoid."

But on Monday senior Labor figures watered down any urgent move, asserting that federal Labor would not be pressured by the states.

“Foreign policy for a Labor government … is a federal matter,” shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who is himself Jewish, told reporters in Melbourne.

“The suggestion that's been made by some people that it might be time for unilateral recognition is something that flies in the face of international law, flies in the face of any circumstances which could actually assist the parties to this long-running conflict in the Middle East,” he said.

Federal Labor supports a two-state solution, which implies the eventual recognition of a Palestinian nation.  

“The path towards peace in the Middle East will only come when Palestinians and Israelis have two states,” Labor leader Bill Shorten said.

“I for one certainly support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to their own state, but I also support the legitimate aspirations of Israel to live within secure borders,” Mr Shorten said.

But the Palestinian envoy, Mr Abdulhadi, said recognition should happen “urgently” to encourage a two-state solution before Palestinian territory shrinks any further.

“Otherwise the two-state solution is fading totally,” he said.

“There will not be any future to save the two-state solution and we will be left with one apartheid state, which is a recipe for bloodshed and conflict for the coming 100 years.”

Jewish community group slams ‘meaningless rhetoric’

The CEO of a leading Jewish community group panned the NSW Labor motion, saying an “unconditional” recognition would give the Palestinian Authority less incentive to improve its governance.

“Unconditional recognition of a state of Palestine gives the Palestinian leadership a free run, without any of the responsibilities of statehood, such as an end of conflict, such as committing to living in peace alongside its neighbourhood, Israel,” Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, told SBS World News.

“What we have in the outcome is hollow, meaningless rhetoric which does nothing to advance peace on the ground, which does nothing in fact to advance the Palestinian state.”

He said the Palestinian leadership first needed to commit to an end to the conflict.

“Tragically, none of that has happened,” he said.

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