By Primrose Riordan
Labor’s Left and Right factions are edging towards brokering a deal on the internally divisive issue of recognising Palestine in an attempt to avoid a messy fight at the ALP national conference next week.
Under the deal, conference would pass a motion which “urges” Labor to recognise Palestine, but does not commit a future Shorten government to immediately recognise a future Palestinian state if elected.
“It would fall short of unilateral recognition,” a source close to the negotiations said.
The motion — which is the same as the one moved by former foreign minister Bob Carr at the 2017 NSW Labor conference — would not substantially change Labor policy or the Labor platform under the deal, sources told The Australian.
University of Adelaide professor Bassam Dally of the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network, which has been pushing for the harder position on unilateral recognition, conceded the deal “could” go ahead.
“They are trying to find a consensus position before the conference,” Professor Dally told The Australian.
The network will hold a fringe event at the conference where nine Labor MPs – Tony Burke, Josh Wilson, Anne Urquhart, Susan Lamb, Susan Templeman, Maria Vamvakinou, Claire Moore, Steve Georganas, and Julian Hill – will speak about their trip to the West Bank last year with the advocacy group.
Professor Dally said he was “happy” with the support his network had received from Labor.
Mr Carr said in November there was a “high likelihood” of recognition of Palestine being adopted by the ALP but that it was possible the motion he moved at last year’s NSW conference would be adopted.
“Five state Labor conferences have carried motions calling for recognition of Palestine by the next federal Labor government. Two have said the recognition should be immediate,” he said.
“Labor’s national conference next month can choose whether to adopt a recognition motion with that adjective, or the one I drafted and put to the NSW conference which leaves the timing to cabinet.”
The position on Israel was one of those left outstanding after other contentious topics were settled at Labor’s policy forum.
A Labor Right source pointed out that while the motion “urges” Labor to recognise Palestine it also supports the right of Israel and Palestine to exist within secure border – placing conditions on recognition. Mr Burke is expected to speak on the motion on Tuesday.
The issue has been shafted to the back end of the conference program and is set to be discussed after 2pm on Tuesday in the last official session.