FORMER Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has called for even-handedness in the debate on Israel and Palestine after the Queensland Labor Party passed a grossly biased motion that places the entire onus of blame for the conflict on Israel and calls for the immediate recognition of a Palestinian state.
The motion, moved by Queensland Labor vice-president Wendy Turner, cites “the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank”, “demolition of Palestinian homes and villages”, “the continued oppression of Palestinians”, “violence by Israeli settlers” and “the Obama administration’s conclusion that Israel has deliberately obstructed negotiations”.
It says “the next federal Labor government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine”, though as Beattie pointed out, the state branch has no authority to dictate such a move.
“We need to be mindful that the policy is set at a national level,” Beattie, who is the patron of the Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue (AILD), told The AJN.
He said: “I despair at the shallowness of the debate of this matter.
“It is easy to blame Israel, but there are two sides to the argument … unless there is recognition of the right of Israel to exist, this problem will never be solved. I would urge people who want to participate in this debate to try and be even-handed about it.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) executive director Peter Wertheim dismissed the motion as “an expression of the left’s frustration at not getting its own way on this issue at the ALP National Conference in July”.
“It is becoming increasingly obvious that the resolution that was passed at the National Conference was seen as a setback by the anti-Israel element inside the ALP,” he said.
“That resolution did not commit the ALP to recognising a Palestinian state – no such state exists – and also fell short of the move towards recognition that Bob Carr had called for.
“The futility of the Queensland resolution has been highlighted by shadow foreign minister Tanya Plibersek, who has refused to accept the resolution, and has reaffirmed the resolution passed at the National Conference.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein called the Queensland motion “one-sided, ill-conceived and counterproductive”.
“To be useful, the motion should address the Palestinian intransigence that has seen them refuse to accept three generous Israeli offers of statehood and now refuse to even negotiate, rather than levelling a litany of false and pejorative accusations against Israel,” he said.
In a statement, the Zionist Federation of Australia said: “Turner and her fellow-travellers seek to punish the sole democracy in the Middle East in order to confer recognition on a Palestinian state ruled in part by a jihadi movement with genocidal ambitions that seeks to annihilate Israel and murder Jews worldwide.”