The Australian Labor Party’s 48th national conference held in Adelaide from Sunday 16 to Tuesday 18 December 2018 has called for a future Australian Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state. The final decision on the issue will be taken by the cabinet.
The conference was attended by over 2000 Labor party members and delegates gathered to set the policy agenda for a future Labor government.
This year’s conference was marked as historic, with the strongest resolution on the issue of Palestinian statehood. The resolution that was moved by Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong and seconded by Tony Burke called “on the next Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state.”
Penny Wong stressed the importance of recognising a Palestinian state for the future success of a two-state solution.
“Labor is a friend of the Israelis. I’m a friend of the Israelis. Labor is a friend of the Palestinians. I’m a friend of the Palestinians,” Penny Wang said.
She further added, “We recognise that a just two-state solution will require recognising the right of both the Palestinian and Israeli people to live peacefully.”
This was flagged as an important priority for a future Shorten-led Labor government, which appears to become a palpable reality at the next election, as the coalition heads into electoral abyss.
Tony Burke said that this Labor policy shift was “a rejection of some of the hardliners who believe that the occupation of another people can be permanent”.
He criticised recent Israeli policy, claiming two-thirds of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet was on public record saying a Palestinian state would never happen.
“In recent years, particularly with the growth of settlements, we’ve seen the balance of negotiations shift,” Mr Burke said.
On recognition of Palestine as a state, he further added, “We have reached the point where the arguments to wait have become thinner, and the arguments for recognition have become stronger.”
The passing of the recognition of Palestine resolution is seen as a success for advocates in the party like Former Premier of NSW Bob Carr, Shaoquett Moselmane MLC and other supporters.
The Australian Palestinian Advocacy Network (APAN) has praised the Australian Labor Party for “injecting dynamism and hope into the stalled peace process”.
Although the resolution is not binding on the next Labor government, leaders from the Zionist Federation of Australia and Council of Australian Jewry have voiced their opposition and slammed the move as “unproductive”.
These criticisms have been overshadowed by recent support from the Jewish community of the Morrison Government’s decision to announce West Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel.
Despite receiving backlash from neighbouring Muslim nations like Malaysia and Indonesia, Bahrain was outspoken in defending Australia’s move in a symbolic sign of the growing benign relations between Israel and the Gulf states.
Labor has pledged to reverse the Government’s Jerusalem decision, portraying Morrison’s decision on Jerusalem as fulfilling his personal interests in garnering votes ahead of the national interest, without consulting experts and allies.