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Palestinian statehood a myth

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Whatever his personal views, Anthony Albanese would be foolish to allow his government to be railroaded by mindless left-wing pressure within the ALP into recognising a non-existent Palestinian state. Doing so would be against Australia’s interest. It would overturn decades of sensible political bipartisanship over Israel’s security and its right to exist in a hostile world. Such recognition of Palestine would deeply offend the Jewish state, with which we have enjoyed the closest relations since its foundations. It also would put us at odds with all our main Western allies, none of which has taken the recognition road. And it would anger many in the Jewish community in Australia that is a vital part of our society.

Yet that is what the Victorian Labor conference on Sunday effectively called on the federal government to do. It would be hard to think of anything likelier to derail what has been a generally well-considered approach to foreign affairs by the Albanese government. The Left faction hotheads who issued the call for recognition are hoping to make it a binding issue at the ALP national conference in Brisbane in August. That ambition contradicts Middle East reality.

The so-called state of Palestine has neither internationally defined and accepted borders nor a centralised government. It has none of the criteria for statehood required by the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States. Even the status and control exercised by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, on the West Bank, is dubious. It is fiercely contested by Hamas, which controls Gaza.

It may be, as the resolution passed by the Victorian conference noted, that “138 countries and the Vatican” have recognised Palestinian statehood. But that is not what it seems. Sweden is the only Western democracy to do so. Australia’s major allies and security partners have all declined to do so. It would be a big call for Australia to put itself at odds over Palestine and the security of Israel with nations such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Britain and the US. Many of the 138 “recognisers” are small states of little consequence to the strategic issues involved in Israel’s battle for survival. Others have recognised Palestine in the context of the Cold War when they were part of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact.

As Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director Colin Rubenstein argued: “There are very good reasons why none of our allies has taken this premature and destructive step, and if Labor genuinely cares about Middle East peace, it must emulate them.” Resolutions such as that passed by the Victorian conference are painful in their naivety. They fail to display any understanding of a complex issue that demands better than undergraduate sloganeering. Claims that recognition of a non-existent Palestinian state would assist in bringing about peace are absurd. The reason there is no peace, as Dr Rubenstein said, is because the Palestinian leadership has rebuffed all efforts to achieve a two-state solution. The PA walked away from generous offers of statehood in 2000, 2001 and 2008. Since it abandoned the last peace talks held in 2014, the PA has declined repeated invitations from Israel to sit down and talk without preconditions. Instead, Gaza, under Iran’s malign influence, has become a launching pad for repeated attacks on Israel, while the PA has lost much of the little influence it had. Australian recognition of Palestinian statehood would be seen as a reward for Palestinian intransigence and unwillingness to talk peace. It would do nothing to help end conflict in the Middle East and bring about a two-state solution.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr is living in fantasyland if he believes Australian recognition of Palestine would do anything for peace. Mr Albanese needs to avoid Mr Carr’s dud advice and ensure the ALP ignores Victoria’s wacky Left.

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Article source: The Australian | Editorial |June 20, 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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