Australia’s Labor Party signals support for Palestinian state

A future Labor government would consider ‘joining like-minded nations’ in official Palestine recognition, delegates decide

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Members of the Palestinian community and their supporters rally in central Sydney, Jan. 18, 2009 (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Members of the Palestinian community and their supporters rally in central Sydney, Jan. 18, 2009 (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

A future Australian Labor government would consider recognizing a Palestinian state if no significant progress is achieved in the next round of Israel-Palestinian peace talks, the party decided Sunday.

At the Australian Labor Party’s annual national conference, some 400 party delegates passed the party’s strongest-ever motion on Palestine.

“If… there is no progress in the next round of the peace process a future Labor government will discuss joining like-minded nations who have already recognized Palestine,” the motion said.

While the ALP decided not to formally change its Middle East policy platform, the wording of a resolution calling for a sustainable two-state solution was widely accepted by delegates following a compromise between conservative and liberal lawmakers.

ALP delegates applauded as the motion passed the voice vote.

The resolution recognized the right for both Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully in their own states and asserted that the backbone of any future peace accord would be based on the 1967 lines.

It called for a time frame to end Israeli presence in the West Bank, mutually agreed land swaps, the demilitarization of Palestinian territories, a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, and the resolution of the issue of Jerusalem’s sovereignty.

The resolution condemned Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the party described as occupied Palestinian territories.

The ALP rejected the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, a worldwide initiative aimed at placing economic pressure on Israel to force it to change its policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

Queensland lawmaker Wendy Turner, who also serves on the board of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, hailed the motion as a milestone for the ALP.

“It’s time, and the right and honorable thing to do: time for action and not words for Australian Labor in government to recognize Palestine,” Turner said, according to 9 News Australia.

According to Australia’s Jewish News, Turner placed sole blame on last year’s failed peace talks on Israel. During her address, Turner said that “Israel has sadly continued to sabotage peace talks sponsored by the US.”

Noting that she did not condemn aggression toward Israel by the Gaza Strip’s Islamist Hamas government, the website reported that Turner went on to say that the Israeli government had “crossed a bridge too far, in fact many bridges too far,” and its “culture of impunity” denied Palestinians the right of self-determination.

A decision by a small bloc of right-wing Queensland lawmakers to align themselves with the left in opposition to the vote was undermined by a deal reached by right-wing lawmakers from New South Wales and Victoria. Ultimately, the resolution’s final wording was the result of a compromise between the two opposing voting blocs.

Australia is one of Israel’s staunchest allies, and last year, its Liberal government declared that it was no longer going to refer to East Jerusalem as “occupied” territory.

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