The recent resolution 2334 of the UN Security Council which condemned Israel’s illegal settlement building on the West Bank has received widespread international support, including from the US.
So why is Australia one of the very few countries to break ranks, indicating that while it is no longer a member of the Security Council it would not have supported the resolution?
The arguments of our foreign minister, Julie Bishop, make absolutely no sense at all. On the one hand she says she is firmly committed to a two-state solution in which Palestine and Israel exist side by side in mutual respect and trust, urging both sides to do nothing which might jeopardise this outcome. Yet on the other hand when presented with a situation in which there is a virtual international consensus that Israel’s tactics are destroying any opportunity for the desired outcome, she gives Israel comfort to continue on this destructive path. Why is it destructive? Because it will ultimately mean one State which will either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both. This is an outcome of perpetual insecurity for both Jews and Palestinians.
Netanyahu and presumably Julie Bishop will continue to argue that the settlements cover only a tiny fraction of Palestinian territory. But that is not the point. With every new settlement there are more settlers to be protected by the Israeli army causing further impossible restrictions placed on Palestinians in their own territory. With every new settlement there are more roads and other infrastructure that crisscross the West Bank with more and more no go areas for Palestinians. With every new settlement there are more ideologically driven settlers who believe it is their divine right to occupy the whole territory and if possible drive out all non-Jews. With every new settlement more scant resources such as water are liberally made available to the settlements and further restricted to the Palestinian community. With every new settlement there are many Palestinian homes destroyed and countless other Palestinians who cannot gain construction approval. Every new settlement means further disempowerment, frustration and resentment is heaped upon the Palestinian administration, weakening any capacity it might have had to negotiate.
So why does Australia stubbornly hold its position of support for Israel in its settlement building, defying all logic and ignoring the overwhelming weight not only of international political opinion but the stated opinion of ethicists and jurists the world over?
Is it because Jewish money is a major factor in Australian politics, with coalition MPs being particularly dependent upon it?
Is it because the majority of Coalition MP’s (State and Federal) have taken an all expenses paid trip to Israel and as a result feel beholden?
Is it because the Zionist Lobby is so strong that it imposes a fear factor upon Australian MP’s?
Is it because a sense of guilt still prevails in relation to the holocaust, guilt that blots out normal moral obligations to others? If so, why Australia?
Is it because Australia’s right wing media, to which the Coalition is clearly beholden, will punish any political figure who dares to speak about Israeli indiscretions?
Is it because Australian right wing politics is influenced by powerful Christian figures who subscribe to Christian Zionism, that is to say a bizarre belief that Israel must secure all of the biblical lands before Christ returns.
Whatever the reason, Australia’s obdurate and dangerous position needs to be exposed. There is no rationality in the argument. Indeed the position is contradictory. The very position that is being argued for is at the same time being undermined. No ethical or moral value is being upheld. Quite the contrary. Whether diplomat or soldier, NGO employee or faith adherent; anyone who visits the Palestinian Territories knows immediately that a terrible injustice is being imposed without relief on a people who cry out for nothing other than the opportunity to live as human beings universally aspire to live, in freedom and prosperity.