Why should Australia recognise Palestine?

Australian recognition of Palestine would:

  1. Honour our commitment to the Palestinians.
    In 1947 Australia voted to divide Palestine, then recognised the state of Israel in 1948, but as yet has failed to recognise Palestine;
  2. Afford Palestine diplomatic equality.
    Palestine would have full Australian diplomatic representation and recognised as equal with other countries around the world;
  3. Act 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;
  4. Censure 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;
  5. Recognise the current strategy isn’t working!
    For years successive Australian Government have encouraged bilateral negotiations towards a two-state solution. However in 25 years of negotiations, Palestinians are further away from self-determination and justice than ever. If we are serious about a just outcome for all, we need to find a new strategy that could work.

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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 unilaterally declared statehood in 1948, which was subsequently supported by the United Nations (with Australia one of the first signatories), but Palestine still does not have sovereignty or self-determination.

Frustrated by the lack of progress towards self-determination, 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.  Australia currently has an Ambassador to Israel, but only a Representative to Palestine.

Symbolically, recognising Palestine would be a declaration to Israel that it cannot dictate the terms of Palestine’s relationship with Australia.

What good would it actually do for Australia to recognise Palestine?

Australia is a close ally of Israel.  If Australia recognises Palestine, 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 create a more equal negotiating situation.

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 Who has recognised Palestine?

138 states have already recognised Palestine – including 70% of UN member states.

The Vatican, Sweden, and St Lucia are the most recent States to accord formal Palestinian Recognition.

There are significant moves in Europe towards recognition: The UK Labour Party platform is for immediate Palestinian Recognition; In 2014, the Irish Senate called on the government to recognise Palestine; Italy undertook a symbolic parliamentary vote in 2015.  France has indicated it may recognise Palestine; Spain will seek for the EU to recognise Palestine, and if it does not, then Spain will recognise Palestine.

What do Australians think about the recognition of Palestine?

In March 2017, a Morgan poll found that 73% of Australians support Palestine Recognition.

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Why now?

The Oslo Accords were signed 25 years ago.  These Accords were supposed to be temporary, and to compel Israel to progress negotiation of the final status issues.   This has not happened.  Instead in the last year:

  • In December 2017, the USA moved their Embassy to Jerusalem, asserting it as the capital of Israel, undermining 50 years of international law which has declared Israel’s military occupation of Jerusalem as illegitimate and calling on them to withdraw from that territory;
  • In July 2018, Israel passed the Nation State Basic Law. This law legalises apartheid inside Israel, and amongst other things declares that:
    • the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and the realisation of national self-determination in the State of Israel will be exclusively for the Jewish people;
    • Greater and united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel;
    • Arabic loses its status as an official language
    • the State shall encourage, promote and establish Jewish settlements;
  • In August 2018, Israel approved plans for 1004 housing units in settlements, 96% in of which are in isolated settlements that Israel would likely need to evacuate within a two-state agreement.
    • Since 1993, settler numbers have more than doubled – now at least 588,000 Israeli Jews live illegally in the West Bank.
    • There are now at least 127 settlements sanctioned by the Israeli Government, and another 100 “settlement outposts” located throughout the West Bank.
    • Since Trump’s election, the Israeli Government has promoted plans for over 10,000 new houses in settlements.
    • These settlements have direct and real effect on Palestinians. The Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, facing demolition, has an illegal settlement outpost just 1.5 kms away.

What should the Australian Labor Party to do?

The resolution carried at the 2015 ALP National Conference states 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, and in fact there has been a dramatic deterioration in Palestine’s negotiating position.

The ALP should honour its word,
and pledge that the next Labor government will immediately Recognise Palestine.

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