Australia’s recognition of the State of Palestine an overdue move in support of peace

Apr 12, 2024
Stick figures with Palestinian flag. Social community and citizens of Palestine, 3D rendering isolated on white background

Recognition of the Palestinian state is an essential step to achieve peace and stability in the world and to bring an end to the Zionist colonial expansionist project in the Middle East. It is time that Australia be on the right side of history, recognise the state of Palestine and stand up in defence of international order.

Australia’s recognition of the State of Palestine is a correct and overdue decision. It is a correction of the long-biased Australian policy approach that has favoured Israel; and the implementation of an evenhanded policy, a two-state solution, that is in line with Australia’s support of the 1947 partition of Palestine.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong is correct in saying that international recognition of Palestine as a state will help “build momentum towards a two-state solution” between Palestinians and Israel.

It is a policy in line with the ALP platform and with the opinion of most Australians.

The claims of the Opposition Coalition, whose policy direction comes from the Israeli lobby and the Murdoch media, are wrong, ludicrous, and lack credibility. Contrary to their claims, recognition of Palestine encourages and supports the peace camp in both Palestine and Israel to solve the Palestinian issue through peaceful means and end the cycle of violence and wars.

While the PLO recognised Israel’s right to exist in 1988, Israel maintains its refusal to recognise Palestine’s right to exist. During his election campaign in 2015 Netanyahu said, “If I’m elected, there will be no Palestinian state.” And in a Tweet in Hebrew, on 28.12.2022 he wrote, “These are the basic lines of the national government headed by me: The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel. The government will promote and develop settlements in all parts of the Land of Israel – in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan, Judea and Samaria.”

Netanyahu’s actions and rejection of Palestine’s right to exist require more than ever a clear, effective, and principled Australian stand. The failure of Australia and some Western countries to recognise the State of Palestine encourages Netanyahu and his extremist partners in the government who are settler leaders such as ministers Ben Gvir, Smotrich, and others. They are the camp that advocated for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rabin because he was willing to withdraw from the occupied territories.

To consolidate the apartheid system, the Israeli parliament passed on 18 July 2018, the Jewish Nation-State Law, declaring that all of historical Palestine, from the river to the sea and beyond, belonged to all Jews around the world wherever they are, and that they alone had the right to self-determination, with Jerusalem named ‘eternal capital of Israel’. Thus, they officially declared Jews first-class citizens and Muslims and Christians second-class. This law came in addition to sixty-five racist laws against Muslims and Christians, as documented by the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah.

While Israel rejected all Palestinian and Arab peace initiatives it has never submitted any peace initiative based on recognition of inalienable Palestinian rights, for the refugee’s right of return, self-determination, and the right of Palestine to exist as amplified by international law and relevant UN resolutions.

Israel rejected the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) proposed peace initiative in 1968 to establish a democratic, secular non-sectarian state in which all Muslims, Christians and Jews would coexist with equal rights under the protection of the law, which the late President Yasser Arafat formally presented in his historic speech at the United Nations on 13 November 1974, saying, “The PLO dreams and hopes for one democratic state where Christians, Jews, and Muslims live in justice, equality, fraternity and progress.” It rejected the second Palestinian peace initiative in 1988, in which the Palestinians made a huge, painful, and historic compromise for peace, ceding 78% of Palestine and major Palestinian cities and fertile land, and accepted establishing a Palestinian state with its historic capital, the city of Jerusalem, in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories, which represents only 22% of Palestine, and it rejected the Arab peace initiative in 2002.

Israel’s failure to repress the 1987 Intifada forced it to start secret talks with the PLO in Oslo, which resulted in the Oslo Accords, and mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, signed on the White House lawns in September 1993.

The agreement set time guidelines for five years, during which time Israel would transfer authority from its military government to the Palestinian Authority and complete its withdrawal from the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and for the state of Palestine to be established.

Now 31 years later Israel is still in control of over 61 per cent of the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

As was to become clear Israel did not sign the Oslo Accords in good faith.

Instead of withdrawing and working on building confidence measures with the Palestinian people, Israel punished them.

Israel used the so-called peace process and negotiations as a cover to consolidate its occupation.

It stepped up the confiscation of lands and building of Jewish colonies; it engaged in the collective punishment, oppression and suppression of the Palestinians, limiting their freedom of movement and carving them into separate Bantustans. It separated Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza from each other, and cities in the West Bank from each other. It installed hundreds of military checkpoints and built the racist wall inside the Occupied Territories.

The more Palestinians compromise, the more demands Israeli leaders make. They demanded the PLO recognise Israel’s right to exist; now, they demand the PLO recognise ‘Israel’ as a ‘Jewish state’ for Jews alone, under the latest racist Nation-State Law, which does not refer to the state of Israel but to ‘the Land of Israel’—comprising all historical Palestine—without even defining where ‘the Land of Israel’s’ borders are. Netanyahu presented a map during his speech at the United Nations in September 2023 showing all historical Palestine as Israel!

Israel’s expansion, gross violations, rejection of all Palestinian and Arab peace initiatives and refusal to shoulder responsibility for the Nakba proves beyond doubt that Israel does not seek peace, equality, recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people and coexistence with them and does not recognise the two-state solution. Peace for the Zionists means surrendering to their colonial project which the Palestinians will never do.

The international community cannot stand by and watch Israel’s gross violations, slow war of genocide against the Palestinian people and swallowing all of Palestine from the river to the sea and beyond. It is time to shoulder its responsibility and exercise real pressure on Israel as it did on the apartheid South African regime without which we would not have seen a good result.

Recognition of the state of Palestine by Israel’s friends is the least pressure they can exercise to deliver a strong message to Israel that enough is enough and that it cannot continue deceiving the international community.

There is no justification for Australia not to recognise Palestine.

Australia has a moral and historic responsibility towards the Palestinian people. It played a key role in the partition of Palestine in 1947 to facilitate the creation of Israel in 1948, causing the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) and ethnic cleansing.

Israel was unilaterally declared in violation of UN partition boundaries, and without defining its borders, yet Australia recognised it.

Although Australia recognises the two-state solution, it only recognises one state, Israel, and not the other, Palestine.
By joining the 140 countries that already recognise Palestine, including Western countries such as Sweden, the government will mend its one-sided policy, play a positive role internationally, and repair the damage to its credibility.

In his address to the National Press Club on 25 January 2024, Albanese said, “I support a two-state solution. One of them is called Israel and one is called Palestine. And that is in the interest of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.”

Recognition of the Palestinian state is an essential step to finding a just and lasting solution, achieve peace and stability in the world, and to bring an end to the Zionist colonial expansionist project in the Middle East.

Seventy-six years of Israeli aggression, expansion, ethnic cleansing, and flagrant violations of international law, hundreds of UN resolutions, all basic human values, and its ongoing war of genocide before the world for more than six months have dangerous implications for the collapse of international humanitarian law, values, and international peace. It threatens not only the security of the Palestinian people but also Australia and all countries and people around the world.

If Israel gets away with all this, why will another country not try to do the same? It is time that Australia be on the right side of history, recognise the state of Palestine and stand up in defence of international order.

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