The following article was published in The Australian on 13th March, 2018. The original article can be accessed here.
Labor voters reject party’s push for Palestinian state
March 13, 2018
Federal Labor is at risk of alienating its support base over the party’s pursuit of Palestinian statehood ahead of its national conference, with a majority of its own voters rejecting the move without the Palestinian Authority striking a peace deal with Israel.
With several state Labor branches last year adopting a platform of recognising a Palestinian state as a means of pursuing a two-state solution after 60 years of conflict, the policy is now likely to be adopted at the national conference in July, which would then become binding on a federal Labor government.
However, a poll conducted by research firm YouGov Galaxy has found that a majority of Labor voters in Australia support recognition of a Palestinian state only if a peace agreement can be reached.
Almost as many Labor voters also support a position of never recognising a Palestinian state as those who favour immediate recognition with or without peace.
The Labor position on Palestinian recognition appears further at odds with the wider electorate, with 52 per cent of all voters backing the view that either some or all of the criticism of Israel is motivated by antisemitism.
The poll, commissioned by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, revealed that only 13 per cent of Australians across all voting preferences believed Australia should recognise a Palestinian state immediately with or without a peace deal.
The same number, however, either didn’t believe a Palestinian state should ever be given recognition or could be recognised only when Palestinian groups, most of which do not recognise Israel’s right to exist, renounced violence.
The largest number, 25 per cent, agreed that recognition could come only if and when Palestinians reached a peace agreement with Israel.
The poll, however, revealed that the question was a fringe issue for a greater percentage of both Labor and Coalition supporters, with more than a third not expressing an opinion on the issue.
Although the results support the campaign by the Jewish lobby against Palestinian recognition, YouGov Galaxy, a subsidiary of UK pollsters YouGov, is widely respected in testing public opinion and is often engaged by the left for campaign polling.
Surprisingly, the poll of 1205 voters across all demographics showed that a majority of Labor voters also backed the US-supported position of moving Israel’s capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — which Palestinians also lay claim to as their capital.
Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said: “The percentage of Australians who supported immediate recognition of a Palestinian state is very small and is cancelled out by an equal percentage of those who believe a Palestinian state should ‘never be recognised’.
“In between these two extremes you have a large percentage of Australians who adhere to the common-sense view that recognition of a Palestinian state must be part of an overall peace agreement with Israel and mark an end to the violence by all Palestinian groups.
“It is significant that 80 per cent of respondents who expressed an opinion think recognition should be subject to these conditions or should never occur. There was remarkably little variation in this pattern between Coalition and Labor voters, and across different demographic groups.”
Only 7 per cent of voters believed the greatest obstacle to peace was Israeli settlements, with three times as many claiming it was Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
However, 44 per cent of voters expressed no opinion.