APAN e-news December 2011

Welcome to our first e-newsletter!

We have had a busy 7 months since our Inaugural General Meeting, and the APAN Executive has been working hard to build solid foundations for APAN.

In August APAN employed Jessica Morrison as APAN’s Executive Officer.  Jessica is an experienced campaigner and began working for APAN fresh from a month-long visit to the West Bank.  She is working 2 days a week from the Victorian Council of Churches offices in Little Collins Street, and we are grateful for the VCC for supporting us with office space.

We have invited individuals and organisations to join APAN, and have 22 founding members to date – representing unions; churches; former diplomats; academics; Jewish and Palestinian organisations; aid organisations and Palestinian solidarity organisations.  We hoping to increase our membership, as this is the foundation of our organisation.  We’d invite you to join if you haven’t already, and to invite other friends, colleagues and organisations your are associated with to join.

In September APAN sponsored a statement that was signed by 23 prominent Australians, including Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser and two former Ambassadors to Israel, that asked Australia to support Palestine’s bid for recognition at the UN (Click here to read more).  While a vote was not taken at the UN, a vote was taken to admit Palestine as a member of UNESCO.  Australia was in the minority of countries not to support this vote, something we were very disappointed about.

APAN joined with the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine(CJPP)Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA); and Australians for Palestine (AFP) in commissioning Roy Morgan to undertake an opinion poll about Australian attitudes about Palestine.  The poll indicated that 62% of Australians support the immediate admission of Palestine as a UN member state; and 64% of people don’t support Israeli settlements in the West Bank (with another 20% say they don’t know if they support them).  It also found that in the last 2 years, the proportion of people who think the Australian Government favors Israel has increased.  Click here to read more.  Read The Age article about the poll.

In November, APAN Executive members visited 26 Federal Parliamentarians and their staff, as well as holding meetings with representatives of Government Departments and other groups urging Australia to shift its foreign policy. Click here to read more.   We were encouraged to get some media coverage of our visit in The Age.

On the subject of media, our Vice President, Robert Newton has had three pieces published in the Canberra Times: Mid-East position will bite Gillard (16/11/11); Australian leaders must back Palestinian bid for statehood (18/8/11); and Stop blind support of Israel (9/6/11).

By the 29th November, the UN day of Solidarity with Palestinian people, Israel had held back tax monies from Palestine for almost a whole month, in a move that was described as “waterboarding an economy” and APAN used our website and e-mails to politicians to call on Israel to immediately release the monies.  Thankfully the monies have since been released, but there are threats of further withholding of monies if the PA continues its quest for recognition of statehood.

APAN is a membership based organisation, and its vision is for groups and individuals to come together to to build a strong national voice.  If APAN is to be effective in helping shift Australian views and public policy regarding Palestine, we need as many minds and hands working together in 2012.  We are planning a general members meeting for early next year, where we will discuss strategy and directions for APAN – we look forward to active participation in this by many of our members.

With thanks and wishes for a safe and joyful holiday period,

The APAN team