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‘Shameful day’: Aus blasted on Palestine vote

Written by on May 11, 2024

Australia’s support of a decision to give Palestine greater recognition at the United Nations has been blasted as “sad and shameful” by a key group representing the country’s Jewish community.

On Friday, the General Assembly passed a resolution with the support of 143 nations, which declared that “the State of Palestine is qualified for membership in the United Nations” under its charter rules. Nine countries rejected the motion, and 25 abstained.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) president Daniel Aghion said it was a “sad and shameful day for all Australians,” and said the vote was driven by “domestic political considerations”.

Instead, Australia should have abstained from the vote, mirroring the actions of the UK, Canada and the US, he said.

“Nothing has changed that would justify the reward that the UN has given the Palestinian leadership, with the Australian government’s backing,” he said.

“Instead of incentivising the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel, such an unearned gain will do the opposite.

“Grandstanding at the UN will not change the realities on the ground. It will do nothing to free the Israeli hostages or break the grip of Hamas and alleviate the plight of Gazan civilians.”

The passage of the resolution grants Palestine additional rights at the UN, allowing it greater participating in debates, the opportunity to propose agenda items, and be elected to committees.

While Mr Aghion acknowledged the motion only gave Palestine “enhanced observer status,” and not voting rights within the General Assembly, he said the motion should not have been supported.

“The Palestinian leadership is as autocratic, corrupt and divided as ever, and remains incapable of forming a single government with the capacity to rule over its claimed territory,” he said.

“It continues to foment fanatical hatred and violence against Israel in the region and around the world.”

Australia’s support of the motion has also been criticised by former Liberal prime ministers Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison.

Mr Morrison, called it the “most hostile policy act of an Australian government” to the state if Israel.

“Such recognition must only occur where there is agreement and when Palestine can be a functional state. It is currently governed by terrorists,” he shared on X.

“It has been taken at a time when Jewish Australians confront a disgraceful wave of antisemitism and Israel is fighting in self defence for its very existence, against Hamas – a recognised terrorist organisation in Australia – that attacked it’s people on October 7 and seeks to destroy Israel and it’s people.”

Mr Abbott claimed Australia’s support of the resolution was “like rewarding the October 7 atrocity”.

“Dismayed that Australia has broken eight decades of bipartisanship to back the UN admission of Palestine without renouncing terror and without accepting Israel’s right to exist behind secure borders,” he wrote.

“Shame the government has forgotten Bob Hawke’s declaration that ‘if the bell tolls for Israel … it tolls for all mankind’.”

Israel immediately condemned the move, accusing the international community of rewarding Hamas for the October 7 terrorist attack that killed 1200 Israelis.

However, Foreign Minister Penny Wong disagreed, saying the vote did not indicate the UN or Australia yet recognised a Palestinian state, but rather “reaffirmed the international community’s unwavering support for a two state solution of Israel and Palestine”.

She noted that was the “opposite of what Hamas wants”.

“This is a clear rejection of the goals and methods of Hamas. A two-state solution, both Israel and Palestine, is the opposite of what Hamas wants,” Senator Wong said.

“Hamas does not want peace and it does not want long-term security for the state of Israel. The rejection of Hamas is among the reasons why Australia voted for this resolution.”

Israel’s representative to the world body, Gilad Erdan, said the international community had rewarded Hamas for the October 7 attacks.

He said the vote had set a dangerous precedent that would allow other terrorist groups to sit at the UN.

“It makes me sick,” he said.

Senator Birmingham said Australia’s support in the vote paved the way for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and “others who deny Israel the right to exist take heart from this resolution”.

“The pathway to a two-state solution matters and can only be possible with security and respect by each party of the right for the other to exist. Yet this resolution reads as though the Hamas attacks of 7 October, deliberately slaughtering more Jews than on any single day since The Holocaust, never happened,” he said.

“Prime Minister Albanese must guarantee not to proceed with further recognition while Hamas still commands the capacity to attack, Israel’s security remains threatened by those who promote violence, and the Palestinian Authority is crippled by incompetence.”

The vote came amid growing concern about. the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, after Israel took control of the Palestinian side of the crucial Rafah crossing and blocked aid shipments.

Senator Wong said Australia was unequivocal in its position that Hamas should have “no role” in any future Palestinian state.

“Australia no longer believes recognition can come at the end of the peace process, it could occur as part of the peace process,” she said.

She said any recognition on a Palestinian state will happen “when the time is right”, but right now the next steps Australia wanted to see was a ceasefire negotiated.

Senator Wong spoke directly to Australia’s Jewish community on Saturday morning when she said she understood the community was likely feeling “distressed and isolated”.

“I want to say, you are valued members of our community and you have a right to feel safe, and anti-Semitism has no place anywhere,” she said.

“This resolution that we have supported is about long-term peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. I truly believe that the only path to securing peace and security for Israel is with the establishment of two states.”

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