USA AND NEW ZEALAND WRONG ON ISRAEL SAYS FOREIGN MINISTER JULIE BISHOP
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has signalled that Australia likely would have broken with the US and New Zealand by opposing a UN Security Council resolution criticising Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Her revelation came as former foreign minister Bob Carr declared Donald Trump’s election could empower Israel to seize the West Bank, comments that will stir a growing debate within Labor about its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ms Bishop said the Turnbull government remained “firmly committed to a two-state solution” and indicated that, had Australia been a member of the Security Council, it would not have supported the controversial resolution that demanded an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.
“Australia is not currently a member of the UN Security Council and therefore not eligible to vote on UNSC resolutions,” Ms Bishop said. “In voting at the UN, the Coalition government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.” New Zealand was one of four countries that co-sponsored the vote. The US, which holds a veto vote in the UN Security Council, abstained. Earlier, Mr Carr, an influential voice within NSW Labor’s dominant Right faction, said Mr Trump’s election could “unleash Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve a rash of new settlements and even annex the West Bank which would destroy a two-state solution”.
“If that happened, nobody would be getting up at a Labor conference to shield a Trump-Netanyahu axis from the strongest criticism,” Mr Carr said. His comments come as groundwork is laid for NSW Labor’s conference, due to be held in July, and follow sharp divisions in the US over its abstention from the UN vote. US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech in Wednesday, again rebuked Mr Netanyahu, saying the West Bank was being “broken up into small parcels like a Swiss cheese that can never constitute a real state”. Mr Carr’s comments follow a visit to Israel last week by Bill Shorten, who met and praised Mr Netanyahu but was criticised for spending only a few hours in the Palestinian territories.
Tensions within the NSW Right, formally known as Centre Unity, are expected to increase over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as policy committees begin to meet in February to discuss motions for the conference. Any toughening of the Right’s stand against Israel would represent a rebuke against the Opposition Leader, who enjoys the support of the faction. Labor’s position recognises a commitment to a two-state solution, and notes “settlement building by Israel in the occupied territories that may undermine a two-state solution is a roadblock to peace”. NSW Labor general secretary Kaila Murnain said the party’s position had been “unanimously supported” at the last conference.
But that position followed months of negotiations in the NSW Right and Left and the wider party, at times including federal and state players including Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, frontbenchers Tony Burke, Jason Clare and Mark Dreyfus, state health spokesman Walt Secord, and Mr Carr. Those talks would make it more difficult for the party to change its policy again. Some in the Right have raised concerns about Mr Shorten’s meetings with Israeli politicians, including Mr Netanyahu. State MP Shaoquett Moselmane, linking to a tweet from Mr Shorten’s account praising Mr Netanyahu as “a good friend of Australia”, said the Israeli leader should be tried for human rights violations.
In an email circulating among party members, a former candidate suggests the Queensland Labor Friends of Palestine and its partner body in NSW should work “to entrench the recognition of Palestine as federal Labor policy before the next federal election”. But Acting Opposition Leader Chris Bowen said Labor continued to support a two-state solution.
Israel won’t give an inch when it comes to defending against the state’s enemies. Every shot from Syria that crosses the border is met with a far stronger Israeli military response. But Israel also won’t sit idly by while its enemies suffer. Syria has openly declared itself an enemy of Israel. Dictator Bashar Assad even took the time to reiterate as much last week, despite the fact he’s got far bigger problems at the moment. The people of Syria have been raised on hatred of Israel. They view the Jewish state as their chief foe, regardless of what other calamities they may currently be facing. But Israel won’t let that stop it from trying to help those Syrians ravaged by their country’s ongoing civil war.
Already Israel has treated thousands of civilians from southern Syria at an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) field hospital on the Golan Heights and at medical centres across northern Israel. At the moment, it’s the population of the northern Syria city of Aleppo that is most in need. Being so far from the border with Israel, however, it’s difficult for the Jewish state to provide aid. Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na’eh, told Israel Radio that the government is looking for other ways to help. “Everyone who sees the images from Syria, and especially from Aleppo, cannot but be shocked by the suffering of the civilians, and try to do what is possible to ease their suffering,” he said.
One idea is that the wounded from Aleppo will be brought to neighbouring Turkey, and from there transported to Israel for advanced treatment. “We are prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they are not combatants, bring them to Israel, take care of them in our hospitals as we have done with thousands of Syrian civilians,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. Another proposal is for Israel to provide funding, equipment and supplies to other aid organizations operating in the area. In a letter to Netanyahu, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef offered to coordinate directly with the Red Cross to bring Israeli assistance to the people of Aleppo.
Yosef closed his letter with a powerful statement that demonstrated how Israel may, ironically, be the nation that most adheres to Jesus’ teaching to love your enemies: “This should be our eternal declaration, that we, the Children of Israel, who believe in the sanctity of life, do not distinguish between blood and blood. We treat all people as those who were created in the image of God, even if we are talking about enemies.”
UN LEADER ADMITS ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS AT UNITED NATIONS
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has now completed his term in office, acknowledged in a departing speech that there is “disproportionate” bias against Israel at the world body. “We must never accept bias against Israel within U.N. bodies,” Ban said. Ban went on to admit that the U.N. has a “disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel,” and that “in many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the U.N. to fulfil its role effectively.” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon commended Ban’s statement and noted the disproportionate number of anti-Israel resolutions passed at the U.N. in recent years.
“The secretary-general admitted the clear truth, the U.N.’s hypocrisy towards Israel has broken records over the past decade. During this time the U.N. passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel while only eight resolutions condemning the Syrian regime as it has massacred its citizens over the past six years. This is absurd,” said Danon. At the same time, Ban urged Israeli lawmakers to reconsider the controversial outpost bill, which would legalize Israeli settlements on private Palestinian land. “I strongly urge legislators to reconsider advancing this bill, which will have negative legal consequences for Israel and substantially diminish the chances for Arab-Israeli peace,” Ban said.