‘Counterproductive’

House votes to affirm government position on Palestinian state

'It would be entirely counterproductive and serve as a reward for Hamas ... to recognise a Palestinian State outside of a negotiated two state solution'

Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts moves the motion.
Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts moves the motion.

Australian foreign policy “should not be used as a political football”, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said on Thursday.

It follows the House of Representatives passing a motion on Wednesday “that this House endorses the Government’s position to support the recognition of the State of Palestine as part of a peace process in support of a two-state solution and a just and enduring peace”.

It passed 81-55 with all government MPs and Independents except for Allegra Spender in support.

“I move this motion today on behalf of the Australian government because the Greens and others are deliberately misleading the Australian public about the government’s position on recognising a Palestinian state,” Assistant Foreign Minister Tim Watts said. “The Albanese government has been clear that we will recognise Palestine as part of a peace process in support of a two-state solution and a just and enduring peace.”

Member for Macnamara Josh Burns, who voted for the motion as Labor members are bound to do, said “I dream of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians”.

“We still in 2024 are facing an intractable conflict between two peoples, most of whom just want to live in peace and in dignity. And we see that here in Australia. I know that most people here in our wonderful country just want to see more peaceful days ahead,” he said.

But Manager of Opposition Business Paul Fletcher said Watts “has scuttled into this place to move this motion without bothering to give any notice to the side of the House, showing contempt for the millions of people who are represented by those of us on this side of the House on a matter of such extraordinary sensitivity in our community, at a time when there is, across our community and across our nation, a significant component of our population that feels unsafe.”

Member for Berowra Julian Leeser said recognising a Palestine state after the events of October 7 “sends all the wrong signals internationally”

“Until they recognise Israel’s right to exist, which so many of the leading actors do not, the prospect of a Palestinian state is not something that we as Australians should be considering,” he said.

“Before the election senior Labor officials wrote in the Australian Jewish News that there was no difference between the Labor Party and the coalition on policies relating to Israel.

“But we have seen since the election there has been a greater gulf between the position of the Labor Party and the coalition in relation to Israel and the Jewish community, and we saw this before 7 October.”

Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender said, “what I am concerned about in this motion and in every motion that we have had on this issue in the House is that we are not actually achieving anything in terms of the difference it will make to the people in the conflict right now.”

Leibler said on Thursday morning, “It would be entirely counterproductive and serve as a reward for Hamas and the horrific 7 October terrorist attacks to recognise a Palestinian State outside of a negotiated two state solution.

“History has proven that peace requires two willing parties that recognise each other’s right to exist. The Australian Government and international community should focus its efforts on encouraging Palestinian leaders to commit to improving the lives of their own people rather than to Israel’s destruction,” he said.

“As soon as that happens, a two state solution will become achievable.”

Leibler also took aim at the Greens, who he said the government motion was designed to push back against. The Greens moved a motion last week in the Senate that wedged Labor Senator Fatima Payman.

“Time and again, the Greens have made clear that they are not interested in a lasting peace or security for Israelis and Palestinians – they want to play politics.  Their relentless campaign for immediate unilateral recognition is recklessly wedging apart Australians during a social cohesion crisis,” he said.

“Cynical attempts by the Greens to win votes here in Australia off the back of a conflict on the other side of the world, will not bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to the negotiating table.”

The two Greens present in the House voted against Wednesday’s motion.

“These are weasel words from this government—crocodile tears—while right now we know there have been 37,000 Palestinians murdered by Israel,” Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather said.

“If the government were true to their word and cared about the Palestinian people they would take actions against Israel to stop the genocide and the invasion.”

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