In summary, an Australian government recognition of Palestine would mean:
- Honoring our commitment to the Palestinians. In 1947 Australia voted to divide Palestine in 1947, then recognised the state of Israel in 1948, but as yet has failed to recognise Palestine.
- Affording Palestine diplomatic equality. Palestine would have full diplomatic representation and recognised as equal with other countries around the world;
- Acting on our support of Palestinian rights. It would be an unequivocal message that we will act to support the rights of the Palestinians to have self-determination through our deeds, not just our words;
- Censuring Israel for disregarding international law. It would show there are consequences for Israel continually expanding Jewish only settlements in the West Bank and other breaches of international law
What does it mean to ‘recognise Palestine’?
The 1947 UN resolutions, which Australia had a strong hand in drafting, stipulated there would be two-states established: Israel and Palestine. As we know, Israel had its state recognised internationally in 1948 (with Australia one of the first signatories), but Palestine does not have sovereignty or self-determination.
Frustrated by the lack of progress, in 1988 the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) unilaterally declared independence, and by the end of that year, 80 countries had recognised Palestine.
Practically, the recognition of Palestine means a country establishes a formal diplomatic relationship with Palestine. Symbolically, it is an indication that the world will not allow Israel to dictate the terms of Palestine’s relationship internationally.
Who has recognised Palestine?
138 states have already recognised Palestine – including 70% of UN member states.
Sweden, The Vatican and St Lucia are the most recent States to accord formal Palestinian Recognition.
There is significant moves in Europe towards recognition: The UK Labour 2017 election platform was for immediate Palestinian Recognition; France has indicated it may recognise Palestine; Italy undertook a symbolic parliamentary vote in 2015.
What good would it actually do for Australia to recognise Palestine?
Australia has been seen as a close friend and ally of Israel. If Australia moves to formally recognise Palestine, then it will put Israel on notice that the mood is shifting – that even its close allies are not willing to forestall a just resolution forever. It would help elevate Palestine’s status and therefore power in negotiations.
What do Australians think about the recognition of Palestine?
In March 2017, a Morgan poll found that 73% of Australians support Palestine Recognition.
What should the Australian Labor Party to do?
In 2015 the ALP National Conference said that if the next round of peace talks fail, then an ALP Federal government would consider recognising Palestine.
There have been no meaningful talks since this time. In fact 25 years of bilateral peace negotiations with Israel has taken Palestine further from justice – with settlements and daily inequities more entrenched by the year.
It is clear that the ALP must honor its word, and pledge to Recognise Palestine.