Friday, November 14, 2008

Fish Friday

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No more pussyfooting around on Australian ME policy?

Antony Loewenstein notes the following as a “necessary, though minor, shift” in the Australian Government’s Middle East policy (about which “of course, the Israel lobby is already whining”):

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. ...

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 opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs Helen Coonan has called for clarification on the government’s position:

“The change in emphasis is concerning unless it can be better explained as giving effect to a bipartisan and balanced approach,” she said.

Perhaps someone in Helen’s office should suggest she read the papers:

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.

There’s plenty of material in the mainstream that would amplify on those broad concerns. Perhaps someone in Helen’s office could get off their arses and alert her to all that...?

Meanwhile the opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, seems to think he already has a handle on the government’s policy:

“[That is] not simply highly critical of our friends in Israel but accuse the state of Israel of acting in breach of international humanitarian law,” he said.

(Well, someone’s got to say it!!)

“Does the Prime Minister consider this change of policy — Australia making that grave allegation of misconduct against Israel — is conducive to achieving peace in the Middle East?”

Wake up, Malcolm! — because as a matter of fact...

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.

So, what we may in fact be seeing here is a nuanced — possibly even an intelligent — approach by the Australian Government to policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

As opposed to the reflexive follow-the-Dubya approach which has hitherto prevailed for too long.

Anyway, Helen and Malcolm, it’s really very simple...

Settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law and have, again and again, inflamed tensions between the opposing sides.

And collective punishment of civilians within the occupied territories is in violation of the Geneva Conventions, ditto inflaming tensions.


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