Our say


Last year, when the government withdrew Australia’s recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, its justification was that Jerusalem “is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations”.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong reiterated those sentiments. Yet in the next breath she declared Labor now considers that all land beyond the Green Line, including the Old City of Jerusalem, is Occupied Palestinian Territory.

So which is it?

With this contradiction, the government has laid bare its hypocrisy on the Israeli–Palestinian issue.

The status of Jerusalem is to be negotiated, yet half of it – including the Temple Mount and Western Wall – already belongs to the Palestinians. Gaza is now considered occupied too – even though not a single Israeli has lived there, nor an Israeli soldier been permanently stationed there, since 2005. Senator Wong speaks of opposing anti-Israel bias at the UN, yet defers to the skewed resolutions of that same UN to determine the legality of West Bank settlements.

Senator Wong told the Senate that the government “is guided by the principle of advancing the cause of peace”.

Yet it’s hard to see how any of these positions contribute to this goal. They only feed the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s belief that it can shun negotiations and still get what it wants with no peace deal, while it continues inciting violence against Israeli citizens, naming public squares and children’s sporting tournaments after murderers and paying salaries to terrorists.

As for the genocidal terrorist group Hamas in Gaza, how exactly have they rained tens of thousands of rockets on Israelis and built hundreds of kilometres of terror tunnels if their territory is “occupied”?

None of these transgressions from either the PA or Hamas featured in Senator Wong’s speech. After expressing grave concerns “about alarming trends that are significantly reducing the process of peace”, she mentioned only Israeli settlements.

We may be in for yet more surprises if Labor’s federal conference this month votes to call on the government to immediately recognise a state of Palestine.

But if this week’s policy shifts, as some suggest, were aimed at placating the factions pushing for that outcome, they may have just had the opposite effect and emboldened them.

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