STATEMENT BY ANTON BLOCK, PRESIDENT, AND PETER WERTHEIM AM, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Resolution on Israel-Palestinian conflict passed by NSW State ALP Conference on 30 July 2017
Clearly, Israel still has many friends within the ALP and they are to be applauded for ensuring that Bob Carr’s original motion was significantly amended before it was passed. The amendment expressly recognises Israel’s right to exist within secure borders. It is disturbing that the original motion moved by a former Foreign Minister of Australia was so manifestly one-sided and unfair.
Although it was a significant improvement upon the original Carr motion, the final resolution urges the next Labor government to “recognise Palestine”. If acted upon, this would open the door to a grave weakening of Australia’s traditional bipartisan consensus in favour of, and the ALP’s commitment to, a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict.
No fair-minded person would place the entire blame for the absence of a peace agreement on Israel. Since 2000, Israel has made at least three peace offers to the Palestinians which included the establishment of a Palestinian State over territory equivalent in area to 100% of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel has repeatedly called on the Palestinians to return to negotiations without preconditions. The Palestinians have refused.
Labor leaders Bill Shorten, Penny Wong, Chris Bowen and Tanya Plibersek have all confirmed that a future Labor government will not be bound by the NSW ALP Branch resolution, and will act independently in the light of legal and other expert advice. Nevertheless, the one-sided and doctrinaire language and motivation behind the original Bob Carr motion, and similar resolutions passed by other State branches, does the ALP a disservice.
Recognition of a state is supposed to be an acknowledgement of an existing reality, not an act of wishful thinking. No Palestinian entity currently exists which satisfies the universally accepted criteria for statehood under international law. There is no provisional Palestinian government that controls both the West Bank and Gaza, and thus no Palestinian state to recognise.
Further, by requiring nothing of the Palestinians in return for recognition, the ALP resolution seeks to pressure only one side, Israel, to make unilateral concessions, without requiring the Palestinians to accept reciprocal obligations as a condition of statehood. This can only serve to discourage both peoples against making the hard compromises that will be essential for a just and lasting peace.