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Friday, 2 January 2015

Australia's vote against Palestinian statehood 'reinforces feeling Coalition is anti-Arab'

Australia's vote against Palestinian statehood 'reinforces feeling Coalition is anti-Arab'



Australia's vote against Palestinian statehood 'reinforces feeling Coalition is anti-Arab'






‘The government opinion on Palestine does not reflect the majority
view of the Australian public,’ says Eddie Zananiri, a leader for the
Palestinian community










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Link to video: the UN security council votes against Palestinian resolution.



Arab-Australians have condemned the Coalition’s decision to vote against a United Nations security council resolution on Palestinian statehood, saying it degraded their relationship with the federal government.


Australia and the US were the only two countries that voted against the resolution this week.


Eddie Zananiri, who has represented the Palestinian community at
meetings with the Palestinian ambassador to Australia, said: “[The vote]
reinforces a feeling by the community that this government is
anti-Arab.”



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“The government opinion on Palestine does not reflect the majority view of the Australian public, including the Arab community.”


Relations between the community and government are already tense, Zananiri said, citing the Coalition’s failed attempt to relax section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and moves to call East Jerusalem “disputed” rather than “occupied”.


Zananiri said the government was not listening to community concerns about these issues, criticising its “closed-door policy”.


The Australian National Imams Council also called for more dialogue.
Australia’s grand mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, said: “I would like to
reiterate the message that we conveyed to the honourable foreign
minister, Julie Bishop, when we met with her in September: Australia
must take a balanced and just approach to the Palestine-Israeli
conflict. At the moment it is blatantly one-sided.”



“The Australian government cannot champion human rights on the global
stage yet turn a blind eye to the injustices and crimes committed
against the Palestinian people,” he said.



Australia’s ambassador to the UN, Gary Quinlan, said Australia was committed to peace between Israel and Palestine but added that the UN resolution “will not help this process and that is why we have voted against it”.


“It lacks balance and seeks to impose a solution put forward by one
party alone. Final-status issues can only be resolved between the two
sides,” Quinlan said.



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Bishop
George Browning, the head of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network,
said the vote “achieves nothing except to undermine moderates and
strengthen extremists on both sides”.



“By voting against Palestinian statehood the government is in danger
of giving an invaluable gift to extremists throughout the Muslim world
who never tire of pointing to the west’s double standards regarding
Palestine as proof of its hostility towards Islam,” Browning said.



The Arab Council’s chief executive, Randa Kattan, said the vote
“would hurt relations to some degree” because the issue was of such
great significance to the community. “Every meeting the Arab Council has
had with the government … Palestine is the top of the agenda,” she
said.



The Israeli embassy in Canberra welcomed the vote. On Tuesday, a
spokeswoman for the embassy told Guardian Australia that “accepting the
proposed resolution would do nothing but harm chances for peace and
undermine hopes for a better future for Palestinians and Israelis
alike”.



“We commend the Australian government for its level-headed vote,
which characterised Australia’s time at the UN security council ending
today, and call for the Palestinian authority to return to the
negotiation table,” she said.



Guardian Australia contacted several Australia-based Israeli community groups for comment.




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