David Rovics a long time supporter of Palestine, performs in Nablus
Play his song 'Jenin'
Dedicated to Ending the Occupation
Ali Kazak October 4, 2011
Israel and its influential lobby are pushing hard for the government to vote against Palestine’s membership, but the government has a duty to put Australia’s national interests, its international standing, values and commitments, above its own narrow party interests and that of Israel’s.
Australia should do the right thing and be on the right side of history, not appease the extreme-right Israeli government and its lobby.
Australian support of Palestinian membership will reflect the moral values Australia upholds, serve its standing in the international community and give credibility to the role it is working hard to achieve internationally. It is also a golden opportunity to correct its biased Middle East policy since the creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948.
Australia has a moral and historic responsibility towards the Palestinian people. It played a major role for the proposed partition of Palestine in 1947 and the creation of Israel in 1948, causing al-Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe and dispossession.
Israel, with the crucial support it received from Australia, became the 59th state in the UN; now, 62 years later and the joining of 134 more nations to the world body, it should be Palestine’s turn to take its rightful place among UN member states.
During a recent visit to Australia, Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, said Palestine’s membership was “long overdue”.
All international requirements are in place for recognition of the state of Palestine. Palestine has received its independence and birth certificate from UN resolution 181, the UN partition of Palestine, the same certificate that legitimises Israel’s existence.
In its 43rd session on December 15, 1988, the General Assembly defined the 1967 occupation of Palestinian territories, as did Security Council resolutions 605, 607 and 608.
Palestine’s recognition is a political decision. That is why about 126 countries have recognised the state of Palestine and established full relations with it. The long-standing policies of both Labor and Liberal are for two states, side by side. They supported the state of Israel in 1948; now is the time to support creation of the other state, Palestine.
For internal reasons, the United States may again misuse its veto power, as it has done 43 times previously, to shield Israel’s occupation of Palestine. But internal political interests here are served by Australia supporting the Palestinian bid.
While 88,800 Australian Jews can influence three federal electorates, all of which are safe, about 340,400 Muslims including Australian Arabs can influence 19 federal electorate seats, 13 of them marginal, according to my research based on the 2010 federal election results and the 2006 census.
Furthermore, most Australians repeatedly have shown they are on the Palestinian side.
Above self-interest, but not devoid of it, of course, Australia has an international responsibility to play a constructive role in bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.
Israel’s arguments for not supporting Palestinian membership are unconvincing and contrary to its actions on the ground in the occupied territories.
Israel has used negotiations as a smokescreen to give a false impression of a peace process, while turning the impression into a process for consolidating and legalising Jewish colonialism and brutal occupation.
Israel was created by the UN unilaterally, not through negotiation with the Palestinian people. Palestinians are going to the UN to get international recognition for their state and to end 4½ decades of bloody occupation.
Palestine’s membership of the UN would not be a declaration of war nor a substitute for negotiations.
Palestinians have shown commitment for the past 18 years to solve the issue through negotiation. Israel should make good its claim that it also wants to negotiate.
But the difference is that Israel would be accountable under international law as an occupying power. No longer could it claim as ”disputed” territories Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. And no longer would Israel be able to steal more and more land beyond the UN partition borders.
In 63 years, consecutive Australian governments have played very negative roles and adopted policies biased towards Israel.
An Australian vote in favour of Palestine would serve not only Australia’s national interests and put Australia on the right side of history, it would correct this historical record by advancing justice and peace in the Middle East, and therefore throughout the world.