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ZFA statement on the ALP platform conference

The Zionist Federation of Australia expressed its disappointment that the Australian Labor Party’s newly-adopted platform includes a call for the next Labor government to recognise a  Palestinian state.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “The Labor leadership has previously opposed any unilateral actions that undermine Israeli–Palestinian peace. The ‘statement in detail’ now included in the ALP platform calls for the next Labor government to be a party to a direct violation of an international peace agreement, which would undermine the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. We are confident that the Labor leadership would not want this outcome.”

Mr Leibler pointed out that ‘Palestine’ does not meet the minimum requirements of statehood. “Pretending that ‘Palestine’ meets the minimum criteria for a state when it manifestly does not is virtue signalling, and would only undermine Australia’s reputation as a law-abiding and pragmatic honest broker”, he said.

Mr Leibler also noted that multiple Arab countries have moved to forge peace with Israel despite the impasse in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. “Regional peace and prosperity should not be and is no longer dependent on the Palestinians’ willingness to make peace”, said Mr Leibler. “An increasing number of Arab states recognise that peace requires the genuine commitment of both parties and no longer subscribe to the notion that only Israel is to blame for the current impasse. It is unfortunate that Labor’s statement in detail fails to reflect what is now clear to many of Israel’s neighbours.”

Mr Leibler acknowledged Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s confirmation that the Labor platform does not bind the next Labor government to recognise Palestine and said, “I am confident the Labor leadership will maintain the long-standing bipartisan consensus that the only path to a viable Palestinian state is by negotiations. Only by talking to each other will Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace and security.”

The ZFA welcomed the additional resolutions on Iran and Hezbollah, which recognised their negative impact across the Middle East, and the need for whole-hearted Iranian cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with full verification.

Background

Since 2014, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel. Further, since that time they have increased efforts to join international organisations and have countries recognise the non-existent Palestinian state. These efforts are designed to increase leverage over Israel while avoiding negotiations, since negotiations entail mutual concessions. Beyond directly violating peace agreements the Palestinians have signed, these unilateral actions decrease trust in Palestinian peaceful intentions, undermine confidence in the peace process and erect obstacles on the path to peace. They should be condemned, not celebrated.

Article IX (5) of the 1995 Interim Agreement reads:

Article IX: Powers and Responsibilities of the Council

  1. a. In accordance with the DOP [i.e. the 1993 Declaration of Principles agreement], the Council will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of diplomatic functions.

  1. Notwithstanding the provisions of this paragraph, the PLO may conduct negotiations and sign agreements with states or international organizations for the benefit of the Council in the following cases only:

(1) economic agreements, as specifically provided in Annex V of this Agreement;

(2) agreements with donor countries for the purpose of implementing arrangements for the provision of assistance to the Council;

(3) agreements for the purpose of implementing the regional development plans detailed in Annex IV of the DOP or in agreements entered into in the framework of the multilateral negotiations; and

(4) cultural, scientific and educational agreements.

  1. Dealings between the Council and representatives of foreign states and international organizations, as well as the establishment in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of representative offices other than those described in subparagraph 5.a above, for the purpose of implementing the agreements referred to in subparagraph 5.b above, shall not be considered foreign relations.

At its 2018 national conference, Labor’s adopted platform looked forward to a viable peace:

Labor supports an enduring and just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the right of Israel to live in peace within secure borders internationally recognised and agreed by the parties, and reflecting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to also live in peace and security within their own state.

The conference also adopted a resolution that called on the next Labor government to recognise the non-existent Palestinian state:

National Conference:

  • Notes previous resolutions on Israel/Palestine carried at the 2015 ALP National Conference and the 2016 NSW Labor Annual Conference;
  • Supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognised borders;
  • Calls on the next Labor Government to recognise Palestine as a state; and
  • Expects that this issue will be an important priority for the next Labor Government.

In the current platform, Labor has adopted the same policy as above, but has also included the text of the 2018 resolution in a section called ‘Statements in Detail’ in the 2021 platform. The ‘Statements in Detail’ section did not exist in the 2018 platform. Other resolutions from the 2018 conference have been included in the draft 2021 platform’s ‘Statements in Detail’ section.

The Labor conference also passed the following resolutions:

Iran

  • Labor expresses alarm at the potential nuclearisation of conflicts in the Middle East, particularly with Iran moving towards nuclear weapons capacity.
  • Labor supports the revival of the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan) between Iran, US, UK, Russia, France, Germany, and China, with reservations.
  • Conference believes Iran, however, must whole-heartedly co-operate with UN, International Atomic Energy Agency, and other inspections and monitoring as provided in the Action Plan. There is no such thing as half-hearted verification.
  • Conference also calls on the Action Plan to ensure that Iran undertakes not to send its troops and agents to foment civil war across the region.
  • Conference agrees with Britain, France, and Germany, and now the emerging consensus in the US, that the interests of global security are best met through a Iran nuclear agreement with robust verification requirements.

Hezbollah

  • Conference condemns Hezbollah’s external security organisation for its role in the ongoing Syrian Civil War in supporting Bashar Al Assad who routinely bombs, chemically gasses, and murders his own people.
  • There are estimates that more than 200,000 Syrians have died in this conflict with millions made refugees.
  • Conference supports democratic elements of Syrian society and their struggle to live free of persecution and the Assad regime.