ALI KAZAK. Australia’s or Israel’s national interest?

Dec 12, 2018

In their arguments for recognising Jerusalem as “Israel’s capital” and moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, his deputy Josh Frydenberg and the Minister of Defence Christopher Pyne have been repeating Israel’s propaganda and hiding the truth from the public.

What should be of a great concern is the influence of Morrison, Frydenberg and Pyne have on this dangerous decision given that they are not impartial and are known for their bias and uncritical staunch support of Israel despite its occupation, racial discrimination and gross violations.

With this worrying state of affairs and the absence of balance in the Cabinet, can we be sure that a decision based purely on Australia’s national interest and in support of peace with justice in Palestine is served rather than Netanyahu’s extremist government’s colonial ambitions?

The trio repeated Israel’s claim that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, while the truth is the international community regards Jerusalem as an occupied city.

This is Australia’s position since the establishment of Israel in Palestine in 1948 and its occupation of West Jerusalem in violation of the UN Partition of Palestine (Resolution 181) which declared Jerusalem a corpus separatum under a special international regime administered by the Trusteeship Council on behalf of the United Nations.

Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its’ capital was condemned by the United Nations in tens of resolutions which asserted the illegality of the City’s occupation and annexation, demanded Israel’s withdrawal affirmed the nullity of its declaration and called for the recession of all measures: legislative, administrative, demographic, and proprietary, which were taken to change the status of the City. This fact was also emphasised by the International Court of Justice in the ruling it issued in July 2004.

Israel’s internationally recognised capital is Tel Aviv, and that is where the Zionists announced its establishment on 14 May 1948, and where the Australian and all other embassies are, (minus recently the USA and Guatemala).

Following Israel’s occupation of West Jerusalem, which comprised about 85 percent of the city, Israel ethnically-cleansed all Palestinians and confiscated their homes and properties; and since Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem 51 years ago, and its unilateral annexation in contravention of international law, Israel’s oppressive and discriminatory laws and policies have changed the geographic and demographic reality of Jerusalem by expanding its boundaries, confiscating Palestinian land and properties for the use of Jews only and pressuring Palestinians, both Moslem and Christian,  to leave while encouraging Jews to move in, in order to Judaize the entire city.

Contrary to Israel’s claim of an “undivided Jerusalem”, any visitor to the city will discover the stark division between West and East Jerusalem.

Palestinians are living under military rule in East Jerusalem. They’re subject to racial discrimination in every walk of life.

Following his meeting with Indonesian President Widodo during the ASEAN Conference in Singapore, Scott Morrison said he told Widodo “Australia is considering that issue, in the context of it furthering a two state solution.” “Our support for a two-state solution is unquestioned and we’re absolutely committed to that. And Australia has a long history of respecting Security Council resolutions, and I restated that that remains our position.” If this is the case, then he should know there are 24 major UN Security Council resolutions condemning Israel’s occupation and violations in Jerusalem and calling on States not to establish diplomatic Missions in Jerusalem and those who did so to withdraw such Missions from the Holy City.

For example, UN Security Council Resolution No. 478 of 20 August 1980 condemns Israel’s attempted annexation of East Jerusalem, its non-compliance with UNSC resolutions, and condemned Israel’s 1980 Jerusalem Law which declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s “complete and united” capital, as a violation of international law. The resolution states the Council will not recognize this law, and calls on member states to accept the decision of the council. This resolution also calls upon member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city.

So will Mr Morrison respect Security Council resolutions as he promised Mr Widodo?

Australians from all walks of life, current and former politicians, ambassadors, senior bureaucrats, academics, writers, journalists and security experts have warned against a move, concurring it is against Australian national interest.

Mr Morrison said the Government is motivated by wanting to see progress towards a two-state solution because “it hasn’t been going that well. Not a lot of progress has been made.” but he did not say it’s not going well precisely because of Israel’s violations and building of Jewish colonies in the occupied territories including Jerusalem.

Australia never shouldered its responsibility and international obligations, and unlike the EU it did not even condemn Israel’s violations, let alone hold it accountable. To the contrary, Australia encourages and rewards Israel. Only last week Australia voted along with only five countries against a UN resolution calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

If Australia truly wants to assists the peace process and a two-state solution, that is the establishment of a Palestinian state, it must take a firm stand against the occupying power which is obstructing Palestine’s establishment.

Surely Mr Morrison and his government know that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without recognition of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital will only encourage and reward Israel’s occupation and violations and obstruct the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The government cannot claim to support a two-state solution and recognise one state and not the other, especially when Israel is swallowing what remained of the other state by planting Jewish colonies.

If Mr Morrison and his government are sincere in what they say, they need to recognise the state of Palestine and have Australian embassies in East and West Jerusalem. By doing so, Australia would be playing a constructive role and regaining respect.

The State of Palestine is recognised by 138 countries including Western countries such as Sweden, Iceland and the Vatican and our neighbours;  Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Thailand, the Philippines …; It is also a full member of the League of Arab States, the Movement of Non‑Aligned Countries, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of Asia‑Pacific States and the Group of 77. Australia recognised Israel despite the fact that it was declared unilaterally and without defining its borders. Mr Frydenberg said that neither Indonesia nor Mal­aysia have diplomatic relations with Israel, but he forgot that Australia is the odd one out in this region.

It is time Australia, which played a major role in the unjust Partition of Palestine, the creation of Israel and the subsequent Palestinian catastrophe, correct its records and do the right thing.

Ali Kazak is a former Palestinian ambassador. He is an expert in Australian-Arab relations and affairs, and author of “Australia and the Arabs” (in Arabic).


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