Palestineflags.jpgUpdate: 15 August. This statement (in an edited form) appeared as an op-ed in The Age, and was syndicated nationally online.
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society urges the Australian government, which already accepts the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, to support their bid for recognition of the State of Palestine by the UN General Assembly.
Australia has been a long-standing friend of Israel ever since its establishment, and strongly supports resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians through a two state solution. There are several good reasons why supporting UN recognition of Palestine is consistent with these positions.
Putting aside the propaganda rhetoric that permeates this debate, Israel and the Palestinians formally recognised each other when the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. But 18 years of on-again, off-again negotiations since then have failed to resolve the conflict. Palestinians are more strident than ever in asserting their right to return to their original homes in Israel, and Israel is more entrenched than ever in its territorial expansion through settlements in the West Bank.
The current political dynamic has not favoured a resolution of the conflict. But formal UN recognition of Palestine is likely to have a positive effect on both Israelis and Palestinians.
Most importantly it is a clear statement by Palestinians that their goal is a state of their own. Taking this path will require Palestinians to act like a state in dealing with Israel – putting an end to rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza and internally dealing with factions like Hamas who cannot maintain their refusal to recognise the reality of Israel, without damaging the political capital of the Palestinian government.
Palestinians will also be aware that recognition of Palestine carries with it a significant move towards dealing with the Palestinian refugee issue within their state and with compensation, rather than solely through the “right of return”. It diminishes the credibility of a Palestinian government to insist that Palestinians should be able to live in the state next door in preference to their own state.
Formal recognition of Palestine will not of itself resolve the conflict, but it will lead to a more balanced relationship between the two parties and will push both parties towards a resumption of face-to-face negotiations. Australia and the rest of the international community will be in a stronger position to assist this process by applying pressure to both sides.
Formal recognition of Palestine may be confronting for Israel, but is also likely to renew debate within Israel about the brutalising effect of the 44 years of occupation, the resulting damage to its own democratic processes, and the sustainability of the settlement project.
Anyone with an interest in the region will be aware of the difficulty that both Israelis and Palestinians face in confronting and dealing with the issues of territory, Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugees. The necessary compromises will inevitably be painful. The task of the Israeli government and future Palestinian government will be to guide their citizens towards a resolution they can both live with.
The call for recognition of Palestine by the UN General Assembly is one that has been supported by many leading Israelis, including Israel Prize laureates, former Knesset members, former diplomats and significantly, former senior members of its intelligence and defence community. We urge the Australian government to maintain its strong support for Israel and a negotiated settlement to the conflict through UN recognition of Palestine.
AJDS Executive 11 August 2011.

Palestineflags.jpgUpdate: 15 August. This statement (in an edited form) appeared as an op-ed in The Age, and was syndicated nationally online.
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society urges the Australian government, which already accepts the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, to support their bid for recognition of the State of Palestine by the UN General Assembly.
Australia has been a long-standing friend of Israel ever since its establishment, and strongly supports resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians through a two state solution. There are several good reasons why supporting UN recognition of Palestine is consistent with these positions.
Putting aside the propaganda rhetoric that permeates this debate, Israel and the Palestinians formally recognised each other when the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. But 18 years of on-again, off-again negotiations since then have failed to resolve the conflict. Palestinians are more strident than ever in asserting their right to return to their original homes in Israel, and Israel is more entrenched than ever in its territorial expansion through settlements in the West Bank.
The current political dynamic has not favoured a resolution of the conflict. But formal UN recognition of Palestine is likely to have a positive effect on both Israelis and Palestinians.
Most importantly it is a clear statement by Palestinians that their goal is a state of their own. Taking this path will require Palestinians to act like a state in dealing with Israel – putting an end to rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza and internally dealing with factions like Hamas who cannot maintain their refusal to recognise the reality of Israel, without damaging the political capital of the Palestinian government.
Palestinians will also be aware that recognition of Palestine carries with it a significant move towards dealing with the Palestinian refugee issue within their state and with compensation, rather than solely through the “right of return”. It diminishes the credibility of a Palestinian government to insist that Palestinians should be able to live in the state next door in preference to their own state.
Formal recognition of Palestine will not of itself resolve the conflict, but it will lead to a more balanced relationship between the two parties and will push both parties towards a resumption of face-to-face negotiations. Australia and the rest of the international community will be in a stronger position to assist this process by applying pressure to both sides.
Formal recognition of Palestine may be confronting for Israel, but is also likely to renew debate within Israel about the brutalising effect of the 44 years of occupation, the resulting damage to its own democratic processes, and the sustainability of the settlement project.
Anyone with an interest in the region will be aware of the difficulty that both Israelis and Palestinians face in confronting and dealing with the issues of territory, Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugees. The necessary compromises will inevitably be painful. The task of the Israeli government and future Palestinian government will be to guide their citizens towards a resolution they can both live with.
The call for recognition of Palestine by the UN General Assembly is one that has been supported by many leading Israelis, including Israel Prize laureates, former Knesset members, former diplomats and significantly, former senior members of its intelligence and defence community. We urge the Australian government to maintain its strong support for Israel and a negotiated settlement to the conflict through UN recognition of Palestine.
AJDS Executive 11 August 2011.