Recognise Palestine now!

Oct 3, 2023
Free Palestine graffiti on a wall in Hebron.

Every day that the Australian government delays recognition provides legitimacy for Israel’s plans to press ahead with the expulsion of Palestinians. Recognise Palestine now!

The writer was out of Australia from mid-May to mid-September. In the event he missed the detailed reporting of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) National Conference, held in mid-August, and how it addressed the Palestine issue. Having returned, I am attempting to come to grips with what occurred and what are the implications.

By way of background it should be recalled that the two preceding ALP conferences passed resolutions calling upon an ALP led government to recognise Palestine. Those resolutions had not been given effect to prior to the recent National Conference.

Significant developments have occurred since the earlier conferences. In particular the findings of an apartheid State by, inter alia, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and the election in Israel of the most right wing government in its history, which government has made no secret of its determination to press ahead with the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and land.

Readers of P&I will recall my attempts to have Penny Wong and Foreign Affairs disclose through an FOI Act application, the basis upon which the conclusion by Amnesty International of the fact of apartheid was rejected by the Australian government: refer Australia must clarify Israel’s status as an apartheid State, November 3, 2022; Australia’s DFAT blocks FOI request on Israel apartheid status, January 9, 2023; and FOI exposes Australia’s attempts to protect Israel on apartheid status, March 28, 2023.

The only conclusion that could be drawn from that exercise is that DFAT and the government had no genuine basis to reject the finding of Amnesty International and others. That conclusion could only be reinforced by the recent Senate hearing on the FOI regime and in particular the evidence to that hearing given by ex-FOI commissioner Leo Hardiman.

So, what did happen at the August National Conference of the ALP? The only information that the writer has been able to glean is firstly from Bob Carr’s article in P&I of September 7, The Palestine Catastrophe: Occupation, Illegality and Apartheid. I quote Bob Carr: ‘The Australian Labor party at its national conference confirmed its commitment to recognition of Palestine’. A search of the Conference on the internet results in an assertion as follows: ‘No resolution or amendments hit the conference floor on the Israel-Palestine conflict but we heard a speech from each side’.

Make of that what you will. What is clear is that six weeks have passed since the end of the Conference and no recognition of Palestine has occurred. What is the effect of that? The situation is rapidly deteriorating. The last round of peace talks occurred in 2014. Since then ethnic cleansing has accelerated thereby creating what supporters of Israel call ‘facts on the ground’.

Every day that the Australian government delays recognition provides legitimacy for Israel’s plans to press ahead with the expulsion of Palestinians. Every day that passes entrenches Australia as an accomplice in the international crime against humanity know as apartheid: refer Australia and apartheid Israel: ‘not to act is to condone’: May 31, 2023. How do you justify that, Anthony Albanese? How do you justify that, Penny Wong? How do you justify that, members of Cabinet, and members of caucus?

Recognise now! Such an act would send a strong message to the world, and particularly to the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand. It might even be catalyst for change in Israel.

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