BOB CARR. The Case for Recognition of Palestine

Aug 10, 2017

A speech given by the Honourable Bob Carr at the NSW ALP Conference on 30 July 2017

Delegates I begin with three facts.

One, sixty-six percent of the Israeli cabinet are on-record saying they’ll never agree to a Palestinian state. They chose their words. They said it.

In other words, no two state solution.

“God gave us the land, we’re not giving it up”: is what some of them say.

Two, there’s a deluge of settlements, 6,000 approved this year alone. They’re designed to gobble up Palestinian land and make a two state solution impossible.

Three, this year the Israeli parliament voted to give Israeli settlers the right to seize Palestinian land. It’s the so-called Regularisation Act, a law that Isaac Herzog (Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party) described as a war crime and Benny Begin, Likud member and son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, described as a “looting bill”.

Palestinian homes are already being bulldozed at a record rate.

Delegates, a one state solution – which is what we’re drifting to – means 2.9 million Palestinians ruled by a minority, with two sets of laws one for Israelis, one for Palestinians.

Prime Ministers Rabin, Barak and Olmert have called that Apartheid.

When I had Bob Hawke launch Labor Friends of Israel in 1977 in the Trades Hall, the symbol of Israel was the kibbutz; now the right-wingers have made the symbol of their country the settlement bloc, full of migrants from Russia or the US, lording it over Palestinians in the gullies.

Well, let’s send a message to hardliners in Israel that this behaviour loses friends; to hard-pressed Palestinians that there’s still hope.

Some people have argued we must attach conditions to recognition. But recognition is simply the opening of diplomatic relations. We “recognise” 54 countries in Africa but don’t “attach conditions” to our recognition of Ethiopia or Rwanda or The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recognition of North Korea or Columbia or Canada comes without “conditions”. We don’t make our recognition of the United States dependent on them having to have a President of probity and sanity. 3

Nor do we withdraw recognition from the US if they fail to impeach and convict and remove a President with a neurological disorder disrupting the world.

By the way I considerate it somewhat impertinent for an occupying power- in this case Israel- insisting we attach conditions to our recognition of the country they occupy.

One hundred and thirty-seven nations already recognise Palestine. The Vatican and Sweden, under a Labour Government did so last year. Delegates, when I used that phrase “under a Labour government” I was referring to Sweden not The Vatican. But given the commitment of Pope Francis to social justice I could easily see him on the floor of this conference…..although, Kaila, he might not be in our faction.

But if Pope Francis were here I suspect, he and not Janelle Saffin, would be the seconder of this motion.

All of the former heads of Israel’s own security agencies – Mossad and Shin Bet – support a Palestinian state because the alternative is years of bloodshed.

The World Bank and IMF say the Palestinians are ready to govern themselves.

And Hawke and Rudd and Gareth Evans recommend it.

On June 22 South Australian Labor supported recognition in their parliament.

On July 1 the Tasmanian party conference supported recognition of Palestine.

Only yesterday, the Queensland conference carried a motion for immediate recognition.

And, also yesterday, the ACT branch said “recognise Palestine”.

Delegates, as the oldest and biggest state branch, we can’t be left stranded on the wrong side of history.

It was once time for Whitlam’s opening to China. It was once time for an independent East Timor.

Time now for another historic shift in Labor Party foreign policy. If the late, great Gough Whitlam were here he would intone into this microphone, “Men and women of Australia, It’s Time…….to recognise Palestine.”

And he would go on to argue that to save the two state solution we must balance our recognition of Israel with our recognition of Palestine.

Delegates, after we endorse this historic motion go back to your branches and report with pride you came to this conference and did the just and decent thing by a crushed and marginalised people who aspire, within the rules, to something Israel has enjoyed since 1948: a land of their own

.Bob Carr wasForeign Minister and Premier of NSW.

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