'BLOW TO JEWISH AUSTRALIANS'Palestine recognition 'rewards murders'.

Labor’s Palestine pivot

"Any talk of recognition of Palestinian statehood in such close proximity to the October 7 attacks is entirely premature," says Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler.

Photo: The Australian National University
Photo: The Australian National University

Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s bombshell news that Australia is set to recognise a Palestinian state has left the Jewish community reeling and has ignited fierce political debate.

Repeating her call for an immediate ceasefire, which she said would enable Israeli hostages to be released, Wong said peace would only come from two recognised states.

Her stunning comments came only days after she announced former defence force chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin as special Australian adviser on Israel’s probe into the killing of aid workers in Gaza – the only country to make such an appointment.

Addressing the ANU’s National Security College on Tuesday night, Wong said, “Recognising a Palestinian state – one that can only exist side by side with a secure Israel – doesn’t just offer the Palestinian people an opportunity to realise their aspirations. It also strengthens the forces for peace and undermines extremism. It undermines Hamas, Iran and Iran’s other destructive proxies in the region.”

Wong rejected claims that recognition would reward Hamas. “First, because Israel’s own security depends on a two-state solution. There is no long-term security for Israel unless it is recognised by the countries of its region. Second, because there is no role for Hamas in a future Palestinian state. Hamas is a terrorist organisation which has the explicit intent of the destruction of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

The government’s sharp turn on recognising a Palestinian state “is not the way to treat a friend and ally of Australia, such as Israel”, said Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Daniel Aghion. “All reasonable people want to end the cycle of violence and see Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace. However, our government must be clear-eyed about why peace has remained elusive all these years.

“Israel has unilaterally withdrawn from territory and advanced proposals for two-state solutions since 1937. All Israel’s offers have been rejected.”

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “Any talk of recognition of Palestinian statehood in such close proximity to the October 7 attacks is entirely premature and will be seen as a reward for those attacks. Israel is currently at war with a genocidal terrorist organisation, which perpetrated horrors on the Jewish people not seen since the Holocaust.

“Before any talk of statehood is credible, Hamas must be removed and a new generation of Palestinian leadership must emerge, which isn’t corrupt, don’t condone violence and recognises Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein stated, “We profoundly disagree with Senator Wong’s implications in her speech that recognition of Palestinian statehood could be a ‘way of building momentum towards a two-state solution’ and would also not be a reward for the terrorist massacre of Hamas on October 7.”

Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham. Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Rubenstein said despite Wong’s words about Hamas having no future role in Gaza, “there is no doubt that many Palestinians would see any such recognition in the near future as a major national achievement made possible by Hamas’s wave of barbaric mass violence.” He also described recognition as “a huge disincentive for the Palestinian Authority to undertake the root and branch reforms Senator Wong acknowledges it needs before it could also take over Gaza’s governance”.

Noting Australia’s recognition would be out of step with allies, the US, Canada and the UK, Australian Jewish Association CEO Robert Gregory stated, “It is morally corrupt to react to the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust by rewarding the murderers who carried out the atrocity.”

Coalition frontbenchers condemned the government’s latest twist. Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham said, “It is downright dangerous to reward such barbaric conduct with a fast track to recognition of statehood. To give the greatest chance for a sustainable ceasefire that leads to prospects of stability and security, Labor should instead be applying maximum pressure on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all hostages and surrender all terrorist capabilities.”

Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson noted, “The Albanese government is proposing to walk away from decades of bipartisan policy on Israel by unilaterally recognising a Palestinian state before any peace process and while Hamas still holds Israelis hostage and controls parts of Gaza. In their wildest dreams Hamas could not have imagined their slaughter of Jews on October 7 would be rewarded this handsomely by a Western democracy.”

“A win for the terrorists” is how Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume, speaking on Seven’s Sunrise yesterday, described it. “Hamas is still harbouring terrorists, it’s still hiding hostages in among civilian infrastructure and civilians themselves, using them as human shields. The idea that we reward this kind of behaviour by prematurely offering them statehood I think is a significant blow to Jewish Australians.”

Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender said, “We must work towards a long term peace. Like many, I believe two secure and peaceful states – Israel and a Palestinian state – is the best path to that goal. Recognition of a Palestinian state will be part of that, but I am sceptical about unilateral moves.

“I urge the government to move carefully in the diplomatic sphere, consulting widely with the Australian community and with our allies, and especially Israel.”

In a statement, Labor Friends of Israel said, “Our position is that we completely reject and oppose unilateral recognition.

“We note that the two-state solution could have been achieved if not for the fact that it has been repeatedly spurned by the regional Arab and Palestinian leadership since 1947.”

Casting the Foreign Minister as “a parochial and doctrinaire member of the Socialist left”, former Labor MP for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby said, “She knows because of teals holding a dozen Liberal seats there will be no change of government at the next Australian election so her policy extremism will have no [electoral] effect.”

read more: