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Monday, 1 December 2014

Labor and Liberal MPs call for Australia to recognise Palestine

Labor and Liberal MPs call for Australia to recognise Palestine

Labor and Liberal MPs call for Australia to recognise Palestine

Australian Parliamentary Friends of Palestine group says
international recognition is the only way to end deadlock and bring
peace to Middle East

Palestinians hold a large Palestinian flag during a rally in Rafah.

Demonstrators hold a large Palestinian flag during a rally in Rafah.
Photograph: Abed Rahim Khatib/Abed Rahim Khatib/NurPhoto/Corbis

Australia must recognise Palestine as a separate state to help facilitate international peace, a Labor MP said.

Maria Vamvakinou tabled a motion in parliament on Monday calling for
the government to support Palestine, in response to the UN international
day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, which was on Saturday.

“On this day, we need to acknowledge and understand that the
prospects for a two-state solution are increasingly dissipating and we
are left with very few options,” Vamvakinou said in tabling the report.

are, potentially, embarking on a road map that leads to nowhere. Such a
prospect will have horrendous implications not only for the
Palestinians and the Israelis, but for the international community.
Essentially there will be no peace for any of us.”

Vamvakinou, who co-convenes the Australian Parliamentary Friends of
Palestine group, said international recognition was the only way to end
the deadlock.

“Australia and indeed this parliament must now recognise the state of
Palestine and Australia must vote yes at the UN for Palestinian
statehood,” she said.

The motion had bipartisan support, with Vamvakinou’s co-covenor the Liberal MP Craig Laundy, speaking for the motion.

“The people of Palestine, for the last almost 60 years, haven’t had a
fair go,” he said. “Imagine if you will, coming home this afternoon to
your home, going to put your key in the door and it didn’t fit.

“You knock on the door. Someone you don’t know opens the door and
they’re in your home. That’s what happened here, that’s what happened
all those years ago. And a people have been displaced and fighting for
an identity ever since.”

He accused lobbyists of hijacking the debate. “The things we discuss
in this chamber should not be influenced by the lobby. They should be
influenced by what’s right.”

told Guardian Australia that he is using his position as co-chair of
the friendship group to “continue the discussion with my colleagues and
try to progress the debate towards a meaningful, two-state solution”.

A number of countries – most recently, Sweden
– have formally recognised the state of Palestine in a diplomatic push
to get UN backing for a resolution on ending some Israeli settlements.

Three state branches of the Labor party
– New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland – have adopted
positions recognising Palestine, a move the head of the Palestinian
delegation to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, calls encouraging. “We need
international support … We’re not asking for the moon,” Abdulhadi told
Guardian Australia.

He said he has regular dialogue with the government over the issue.
“We’d like to have a Palestinian state based on negotiation [with
Israel] ... but it is impossible now,” he said.

Guardian Australia contacted the Israeli embassy for comment.

Relations between Australia and the Palestinian delegation have been strained for more than a year, since Australia softened its stance on Israeli settlements.

“This shift reflected the government’s concern that Middle East
resolutions should be balanced,” the foreign minister, Julie Bishop,
said in November 2013.

“The government will not support resolutions which are one-sided and
which prejudge the outcome of final-status negotiations between the two

Supporters of Australia’s policy shift
see it as vital for a more fair and frank discussion on the vexed
Israeli-Palestinian issue within the UN, which they say is biased
towards Palestinians.

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