Letter to Editor, Sydney Morning Herald

Oct 6, 2011

in response to an opinion piece by Ise Leibler

Isi Leibler’s (Opinion 5/10/11) suggestion that Malcolm Fraser is no longer a friend of Israel reinforces the outlook that says we can only be friends with Israel if we never criticise its actions. This is clearly a restrictive foreign policy position, and one that that Australia should be moving away from.

Palestine has engaged in negotiations for peace for 25 years. Since the signing of the Oslo accords, settlers in the West Bank have doubled, and Israeli control over Palestinian’s has become far more intrusive.

The ‘generous’ offers of Israel for a peace settlement asked the Palestinians to accept a deal where they would have had no control over their borders, nor any control over water supply, and they would have had to accept Israeli military supervision for an indefinite period.  After already given up 78% of historic Palestine, they were then being asked to accept a land swap involving their giving up 9 per cent of the West Bank to accommodate the settlers, in return for which they would receive land from Israel totaling one-ninth of the area they would relinquish.

Mr Leibler might wish that the international community reject talking with the democratically elected Government of Hamas because of its approach to Israel.  However Palestinians talk to members of the Likud party who in their policy platform reject the establishment of a Palestinian State.

Australia must be willing to listen to Palestinian perspectives as well as Israel if we are to have a balanced foreign policy.  In this regard we welcome Mr Fraser and the many other prominent Australians who have supported the Palestinian bid for Statehoood (https://apan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Statement-on-Recognition-of-Palestinian-Statehood_v4.pdf).

Rev James Barr
Australia Palestine Advocacy Network
Source for Likud policy: http://www.knesset.gov.il/elections/knesset15/elikud_m.htm