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AUSTRALIA has switched its position to vote against Israel on two resolutions at the United Nations, ending the Howard government's unswerving alignment with the United States and raising concern from the Jewish community.
The move also signals to the incoming Obama administration that the Rudd Government plans to take a different approach to the Howard government on the international stage.
In the weekend vote in New York, Australia supported a resolution calling on Israel to stop establishing settlements in the Palestinian territories and a resolution calling for the Geneva Conventions to apply in the Palestinian territories.
The resolutions on the Middle East peace process are held annually and the Howard government had backed both from 1996 to 2002 but in 2003 began to vote against or abstain. It was a move that aligned Australia with only the US, Israel, the US Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Micronesia and put the country at odds with Britain, Canada, New Zealand and France.
Australian officials told the UN the Government had changed its position because it supported a two-state resolution of the conflict to deliver a secure Israel living beside a viable Palestinian state and that Australia believed both sides should abide by their obligations under the Road Map for Peace.
Australia said it was concerned activity in the disputed settlements undermined confidence in the negotiations. It was among 161 countries that supported both resolutions, with two abstaining and six against.
The president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Robert Goot, last night was concerned over the Government's switch. "We are concerned that the vote has changed, we do not understand the basis for the change," he said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, last night said there had been no change to Australia's policy on the Middle East. He said he had met the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, in Jerusalem two weeks ago and told them Australia was a strong supporter of Israel and the Middle East peace process.
"Australia's friendship with Israel is longstanding and enduring and we understand completely Israel's legitimate security concerns," he said.
"As a staunch and longstanding friend of Israel, we want its people to be able to enjoy the fruits of a normal, peaceful existence, within a Middle East that recognises Israel's right to live within secure and internationally recognised boundaries. That is an approach that has strong bipartisan support in Australia and it's an approach that will continue."
The Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Helen Coonan, called on Mr Smith to explain why Australia changed its vote. "The change in emphasis is concerning unless it can be better explained as giving effect to a bipartisan and balanced approach," she said.
Australia maintained its vote on seven other UN resolutions relating to Israel, in particular opposing a resolution criticising Israel on Palestinian human rights. Australia said it believed the resolution was too one-sided against Israel and failed to take account of Israel's legitimate security concerns or reflect the responsibility of Palestinians to end attacks against Israel. Australia was one of eight countries, including Canada, to vote against this resolution that was supported by 87 countries with 70 abstaining.
Last month Australia announced new sanctions on Israel's rival Iran but backed down on a pledge to force the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, before an international court on charges of inciting genocide.
Original piece is http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/11/09/1226165386581.html
A resolution calling for the Geneva conventions to apply totally ignores what is actually written in the relevant Geneva convention. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the forcible transfer of people of one state to the territory of another state that it has occupied as a result of a war. The intention was to insure that local populations who came under occupation would not be forced to move. This is in no way relevant to the settlement issue. Jews are not being forced to go to the West Bank; on the contrary, they are voluntarily moving back to places where they, or their ancestors, once lived before being expelled by others. In addition, those territories never legally belonged to either Jordan or Egypt, and certainly not to the Palestinians, who were never the sovereign authority in any part of Palestine. "The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the local population to live there," according to Professor Eugene Rostow, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. As a matter of policy, moreover, Israel does not requisition private land for the establishment of settlements. Housing construction is allowed on private land only after determining that no private rights will be violated. The settlements also do not displace Arabs living in the territories. The media sometimes gives the impression that for every Jew who moves to the West Bank, several hundred Palestinians are forced to leave. The truth is that the vast majority of settlements have been built in uninhabited areas and even the handful established in or near Arab towns did not force any Palestinians to leave
Posted by Haifa diarist on 2008-11-12 18:01:23 GMT
I'll Bet any money Jewish labor supporters will somehow turn Rudd's groveling to the Arabs at the UN into a positive. Some how they will argue by Australia joining the Arab /Muslim world , Russians,Chinese,Koreans , Britt's, EU and all the other Arabists that suck up to the Arabs for their oil and trade or because they have tens of Millions of Muslim refugees/Asylum seekers in their back yard bleeding their social welfare dry ,we are doing Israel a favor .
Posted by Reality Bites on 2008-11-12 11:21:41 GMT
It occurs to me that many commentators write before they read. The issue is not a two state solution. The issue is condemning Jews who settle in Judea and Samaria on unclaimed land. Anyone demanding that "Palestine" be Jew free is an antisemite (as indeed the Arabs are) and anyone deciding on a territory, in favour of a lying murderous entity whose raison d'étre is the destruction of Israel and the denial of Jewish self determination is a contemptible bigot and an ally of jihadist enemies of civilisation. Criticising Israel for not adhering to the Geneva Conventions is just the parroting of another Arab lie.
Posted by paul2 on 2008-11-11 11:10:29 GMT
Just because Emmanuel is Jewish and modern Orthodox doesn't preclude President 'Bob' causing problems. 1) Chief of Staff is a glorified PA, not a decision maker. 2) Emanuel had a hand in Oslo, and we know what a 'success' that was.
Posted by 2+2=? (Anything but 4) on 2008-11-11 03:29:08 GMT
PLEASE NOTE AND REMEMBER. HOWARD AND DOWNER LIBERALS WERE PREPARED TO LOSE VOTES IN THE LAST ELECTION BECAUSE OF THEIR SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL. THE CHANGE OF DIRECTION BY LABOUR WAS NOT UNEXPECTED, VOTES COUNT MORE THAN PRINCIPLES TO THE PRESENT LABOUR GOVT.
Posted by Harry Segal on 2008-11-11 02:16:12 GMT
Duaaa ! If Israel's government is more than willing to recognize a 2 state resolution how can a friend of Israel go against that?
Posted by Mitchell / Brooklyn, NY on 2008-11-10 16:53:12 GMT
I am pleased to read Danby's reminder that the Rudd government patted Israel on the back on its 60th. It seems thought that the pat was only to find the best place to stick a knife. Two important points need top be made. Anyone who condemns Israel for settlements is Judea and Samaria is siding with the Arabs, declaring that the land belongs to an entity that never existed, has no legal basis for its creation and which has yet to fulfil its promised amendment to the PA charter which commits it to the violent destruction of Israel. The second point about opposing settlements is that giving in to Arab demands that a future "Palestine" be Jew free is supporting antisemitism. The Rudd regime's giving voice to the Geneva Conventions ignores Israel's puntilious observation to those provisions that are applicable. The rest is merely pandering to Arab disinformation about the conventions, which they treat with contempt e.g. the rights of the child, the use of human shields, demanding protected person status for armed civilians and it goes on and on. Really, Danby should reflect on the matter and ask himself what is more important: his seat of his soul.
Posted by paul2 on 2008-11-10 13:24:42 GMT
It's about time Australia adopted a more nuanced position on Israel which defends its right to exist in peace but opposes its excesses
Posted on 2008-11-10 13:11:52 GMT
I am with "reality bites", look at our Jewish colleagues in Florida. They could not see anything wrong with voting for Obama Hussein. What they will find soon is going to be too late for Israel, same as with voting Labour in Australia in 2007. Danby and cohorts can scream as much as they like but the facts are that Australian Labour government turned against Israel. It will do so at every opportunity it has. Just look and listen to members of the Labour party when it comes to talk about Israel.
Posted by Moses on 2008-11-10 12:34:53 GMT
Just in case some of you found my previous comment somewhat obscure - surely not too many! - I was referring to the votes cast for Labor at the last Federal election.
Posted by Nathan on 2008-11-10 12:21:21 GMT
Apropos Michael Danby's comment that the changed UN vote was "a mistake", perhaps another conclusion to be drawn is that another vote, at another, earlier time was also "a mistake"?
Posted by Nathan on 2008-11-10 11:32:30 GMT
IF RUDD /SMITH AND CO WERE SO CONCERNED ABOUT THE GENEVA CONVENTION THEY WOULD HAVE TOLD THE PALESTINIAN/ARAB/MUSLIM LOBBY HERE GET SHALIT RELEASED AND WE WILL SUPPORT YOU AT THE UN.IT'S ALL ABOUT PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS NEVER ABOUT ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS..
Posted by RUDDS FLIP/FLOP on 2008-11-10 11:17:29 GMT
Michael Danby's comment is at http://www.danbymp.com/index.php?article=328
Posted by Ronit on 2008-11-10 10:59:35 GMT
Olmert and Livni have not been successful with Israel's foreign affairs.While it is only the UNGA,it is a warmup by a fair weather friend to promote australia's populism.
Posted on 2008-11-10 10:32:27 GMT
Rudd's about face on Iran -aan election promise -and his concern with populism should leave no one surprised. What has Danby to say on this?
Posted by ron on 2008-11-10 10:29:41 GMT
Vent by all means, but it's unlikely to do you or Israel all that much good. However remembering, come the next election, why that's another thing entirely.
Posted by Nathan on 2008-11-10 10:14:20 GMT
UNGA are non binding - so? It's the intent behind this that is worrying. With only a few real friends in the world, losing one hurts.
Posted by Correction, They Weren't Thinking on 2008-11-10 09:10:19 GMT
PLEASE REMIND READERS THAT THE RESOLUTIONS WERE VOTED ON, IN THE UNGA AND NOT IN THE UNSC, AND EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENT SIGNIFICANCE OF UNGA RESOLUTIONS.
Posted by IVAN CHER on 2008-11-10 09:06:43 GMT
And what will be the 'unintended consequence' of this Rudd policy? Can only echo the thoughts of Reality Bites.
Posted by What Were They Thinking on 2008-11-10 08:59:54 GMT
geneva convention! Tell that to Gilad Shalit, I am sure he will be pleased.
Posted by shyrla Pakula on 2008-11-10 07:50:56 GMT
Perhaps American Jews that have been the most vocal supporters of rebee Obama or Saint Obama should take note.. weren't they blabbing to Republican Jews that there was no difference between the democrats and republicans on the issue of Israel... I seem to remember Australian Jews arguing exactly the same mantra, once the election is over it's a bit late then to wake up and realize that there are 400,000 Muslims in Australia and only 100,000 Jews and guess who all the Muslims vote for and guess where all the trade is going and guess which minority group creates violence if they don't get their own way... why wouldn't Rudd & co. take that into consideration Der!!!!
Posted by Reality Bites on 2008-11-10 07:33:18 GMT
The only thing that is a hindrance to the peace process is hatred...on the side of the Pals and other Arabs and whilst you're at it, take a look at the Koran. That's it in a nutshell. Don't have to look far to get evidence of it. So why blame the so-called "settlements"?
Posted by Ronit on 2008-11-10 07:17:47 GMT
our govt has taken a proper view you cant criticize the us for not applying the geneva conventions and not israel or any other non complying nation and illegal settlements are a hinderance to the peace process
Posted by edward caulield on 2008-11-10 07:11:49 GMT
I cannot imagine that this government actually understands the consequences of such a switch. I mean can people really be that stupid!
by Ronit on 2008-11-10 07:11:38 GMT