The federal government now officially considers the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory after foreign minster Penny Wong announced a change in Labor’s positions, agreed to earlier on Tuesday in caucus, during Senate Question time.
All areas over the Green Line will now be referred to by the federal government as “Occupied Palestinian Territories” as well as Gaza, despite the fact that Israel withdrew from the coastal enclave in 2005.
The government will also recognise Israeli settlements is the West Bank as “illegal under international law”.
“One week out from its National Conference, it’s clear Labor’s factions have forced the Albanese Government into another about-face in relation to Australia’s policies on Israel and the Palestinian territories,” shadow foreign affairs minister Senator Simon Birmingham said.
“These latest acts of the Albanese Government come on top of the disgraceful handling by Labor of the changes to Australia’s recognition of the Israeli capital, which was marked by disrespect for a Holy Day and a gross lack of consultation.”
Australia-Israel Labor dialogue co-convenor Adam Slomin said the policy change “only emboldens extremists on both sides”.
“This announcement places Australia as an outsider and not a cooperative supporter for both parties to reach a two-state solution,” he said.
The New Israel Fund, however, welcomed the decision, saying, “The current Netanyahu government has enabled the far-right, messianic agenda of the settlement enterprise and continues to support the agenda of the settlement movement.”
Labor’s federal conference will be held on August 17-19. The state conference in Victoria earlier this year passed a motion calling on the federal Albanese Labor government “to recognise the Palestinian State within the term of this Parliament”.
It has been mooted that Labor’s policy change announced on Tuesday may be an attempt to placate factions at the upcoming federal conference who aim to pass a similar motion.
It was speculated following the Victorian conference that the motion passed on the Israeli-Palestinian issue could have been part of a deal for Labor’s left faction – which supports Palestinian recognition – to pull a motion criticising the AUKUS defence pact between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, which it opposes.