In his recent press conference Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: he is open to the suggestion of recognition of Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem, “the opportunity” for “a capital for a Palestinian Authority” in East Jerusalem and the Government’s commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East living side by side remains Australia’s policy. He informed us of his decision to vote against the United Nations resolution on Palestine to chair the G77, his proposal to the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to appoint defence attaches in the Australian and Israeli embassies to further enhance cooperation on defence and of Australia’s review of Iran nuclear deal.
The picture Mr Morrison gave for the government’s Middle East proposed policy shift; is irresponsible, does not contribute to peace in the region and has dangerous ramifications for Australia and its national interests.
It was as clear as daylight, Mr Morrison’s proposal was linked to the Wentworth by-election and designed to please the pro-Israeli Jewish voters. By doing so, Mr Morrison has sunk to a new level of cheap opportunism in putting his party’s narrow interest above Australia’s national interest. But the results have proven, yet again, that crawling and appeasing Israel and its lobby is not a seller in Australia even in the seat with the biggest Jewish voting population.
If Mr Morrison’s calculation is based on gaining the ethnic support of a small community, then he should know that while the Jewish community (and not all Jews support Israel’s occupation and racial discrimination against the Palestinian people) may have the power of political donation, the Arab, Moslem and decent Australians at large have what count, the voting power.
According to research I did based on the last federal election results and the last General Census, the Jewish community numbers around 91,000 (less than 0.4% of the total population) and can influence two federal seats; while the Arab community numbers over 400,000 (1.6%) and the Muslim community is over 600,000 (over 2.4%) and they can influence 27 federal seats, 20 of them are marginal.
Neither the Jewish, Arab or Muslim communities however are homogeneous in their voting.
Furthermore, Australian public opinion has repeatedly shown in surveys taken for more than ten years that the majority are on the side of Palestinians and not Israel.
Mr Morrison’s revelation of his personal contact with the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his “recognition” of the Jewish community’s “real concern” following his meetings with the Israeli lobby groups, and on the other hand his complete disregard of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian, Arab and Moslem communities, is not fitting for a responsible prime minister who should be for all Australians and for Australia’s standing internationally. How can anyone take Mr Morrison seriously and believe his sincerity to help peace in the Middle East and the achievement of a two state solution when he thinks only Israel and the Jewish community matters?
The voting results of the UN resolution on Palestine chairing the G77 is a clear picture of the shame and damage Mr Morrison and his predecessors’ blind pro-Israeli policies are inflicting on Australia’s credibility internationally in the service of Israel, and all that it represents of occupation, aggression and racial discrimination. The results were 146 countries voted in favour, three against (the United States, Israel and Australia), and 15 abstained.
There is no moral, logical, commercial or national interest to justify Australia’s biased policy towards Israel and Netanyahu’s extremist government.
It is time for the Australian Government and Opposition to review their Middle East policies and adopt an independent credible policy based on Australia’s national interests, respect of international law, UN resolutions and international peace.
Defence relations with Israel, the occupying and oppressing power, are a shame on Australia’s defence force and people and must stop, not strengthen.
The government cannot claim to support a two-state solution and recognise one party 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 their commitment and objective to help the realization of a two-state solution, with West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital, then they need to recognise the state of Palestine and have Australian embassies in East and West Jerusalem. By doing so, Australia will be playing a constructive role, gaining respect and leading the way internationally.
The State of Palestine is recognised by 138 countries including Western countries such as Sweden, Iceland and the Vatican and our neighbors; 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.
On the other hand, recognizing West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without at the sometime recognizing the state of Palestine will be nothing but appeasement to Netanyahu and his extremist government and encouragement for them to build more Jewish colonies, continue their oppression and racial discrimination, and will inflict a huge damage to Australia’s interests and relations with Arab and Islamic countries and people.
As for the issue of Iran’s nuclear deal, Iran’s facilities are subject to rigorous international inspection and it has repeatedly stated its aims for the peaceful use of its nuclear program.
Iran and all the Arab countries are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT); they all support a nuclear weapon free Middle East.
Israel is the only state in the Middle East possessing nuclear weapons, refuses to sign the NNPT and refuses to comply with tens of UN resolutions calling on it to allow international inspection of its nuclear facilities.
A US report The Third Temple’s Holy of Holies: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons issued by the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama in September 1999 states Israel’s nuclear arsenal has grown from an estimated 13 nuclear bombs in 1967 to 400 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. Israel possesses missiles which are capable of reaching most cities in the world with the support of its military satellites and even Israel’s navy could deploy nuclear weapons on the fleet of six German-built nuclear-armed submarines.
We are always warned of the danger of nuclear weapons getting into the hands of terrorists, but we should know Israel’s religious fanatics and extremists such as those who killed Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin, and are daily killing Palestinian civilians and children, are found in all Israeli institutions including its nuclear weapons facilities and its control rooms. Nuclear weapons are already in very dangerous hands.
Australia should be concerned and support the Arab call for a nuclear weapon free Middle East and call on Israel to sign the NNPT, open its nuclear facilities to international inspection and get rid of its nuclear weapons.
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).