Australian Labor Party votes to recognize a Palestinian state
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Australian Labor Party votes to recognize a Palestinian state

Jewish leaders praise party members for watering down original motion calling for unilateral recognition

Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate against the visit to Australia by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Sydney on February 23, 2017.   (AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST)
Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate against the visit to Australia by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Sydney on February 23, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST)

SYDNEY — The members of Australia’s New South Wales Labor Party voted for the recognition of a Palestinian state following a push by former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr.

The resolution was watered down ahead of the conference on Sunday in Sydney and failed to follow its original call for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Carr, who also has served as Labor premier in New South Wales, proposed the resolution.

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten has come under pressure to confirm his stance on the matter as the vote called on the next federal Labor government to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

Following on the heels of similar resolutions in the states of Western Australia and South Australia, the vote will present a challenge for Shorten when he heads the federal Labor conference next year.

Speaking on the ABC’s RN Breakfast on Monday, Shorten said any recognition needs to address the concerns of both sides.

“There’s two issues, one is the legitimate aspirations, and I stress legitimate aspirations of Palestinians to have their own state and I do support that, but also the legitimate aspirations of the people of Israel to live in secure borders,” he said.

He reiterated his support for federal Labor’s long-held position of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. “If you support a two-state solution ultimately that includes recognition of Palestine,” Shorten said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets with the Australian Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten in Sydney, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (William West/Pool Photo via AP)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets with the Australian Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten in Sydney, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (William West/Pool Photo via AP)

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said the resolution passed Sunday “is a much better outcome than what was originally proposed in the conference booklet, and we applaud the efforts by many within the Labor Party who worked hard to achieve a more balanced resolution.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a statement saying: “Clearly, Israel still has many friends within the Australian Labor Party and they are to be applauded for ensuring that Bob Carr’s original motion was significantly amended before it was passed. The amendment expressly recognizes 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.”

NSW’s major city is Sydney. Melbourne is in the state of Victoria where the Australian Labor Party has yet to debate the issue of recognition of a Palestinian state.

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