The Guardian • Issue #2095

Recognise Palestine!

Palestinian flags.

Photo: scottgunn – flickr.com (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The United Nations is set to vote to potentially recognise a Palestinian state. There is only one obstacle to achieving this. That obstacle is the United States and its all but inevitable use of its veto power in the Security Council (SC).

The UN charter first requires SC approval, and then a two-third majority of the 190 members of the UN General Assembly. The last time such a vote was taken, 139 countries supported Palestine having observer status. An Australian Labor government was among a handful of countries voting against. The USA has already signalled that it will not accept a UN vote to recognise Palestine. This will condemn the Palestinian people to occupation and servitude. It will guarantee ongoing struggle, death and misery.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong, in a speech to the Australian National University Security College, spoke of pushing for a “pathway” to Palestinian statehood. She suggested that Australia would support the recognition of the new state. There was, the next day, an important shift when in a radio interview she was asked whether Australia was ready for such a move. “No such decision” has been reached was her response. Her speech and her subsequent interview were full of broad ‘motherhood’ statements, but that jarring little disclaimer remains.

The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) responded. While it supported the small step taken, it also stated that it is “high time that Australia joined the other 139 like-minded countries around the world in recognising Palestine … Recognition is a first step towards upholding the full rights of Palestinians, including the right to self-determination, dignity and equality in their homeland, but it’s only the beginning of the work that Australia needs to do to contribute to the breaking of this 76-year history of Israeli violence against, and oppression of, Palestinians.”

Even as Wong’s speech was being made and while the APAN press release was being formulated, the attacks against Palestinians went on. Netanyahu has said that a date has been set for the full-scale invasion of Rafah. Gazans have returned to the rubble that was once Khan Younis. The world has seen the images of the destruction of Al Shifa hospital, and seen armoured vehicles roll over makeshift graves in the hospital courtyard. Australia, like so many other Western governments managed to ignore that which cannot be ignored.

WEAPONS

The US and UK, like Australia, have indicated that they have no intention of halting weapons deliveries to Israel. Calls for ceasefires, UN resolutions for ceasefires, all become meaningless. The hypocrisy of states calling Israel’s actions ‘unacceptable’ while providing the weapons to continue the genocide is there for all to see. Australia is just as culpable, just as complicit in the genocide. It is as much a hypocrite regime as its US master, and like the US has elevated lying to a sinister art form.

Defence Industry Minister, Pat Conroy, in a recent interview stated that “we are not exporting military equipment to Israel … we are not exporting military weapons, things like bombs … to Israel.”

Conroy is treating us as fools. F-35 Joint Strike fighter planes have been used to devastating effect by Israel in their levelling of Gaza. The manufacturer, Lockheed, proudly advertise their product as being the ‘most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft in the world.’ Israel has 50 of these aircraft with another 25 on the way, at a cost of $3 billion, courtesy of American largesse.

These planes have been dropping 900kg bombs on the heavily populated Gaza Strip. Not one of these bombs could be dropped without parts manufactured in Australia. Rosebank Engineering, for instance, supplies among a range of parts, an ‘uplock actuator’ that opens and closes the bay doors from which those same bombs are dropped.

Conroy also failed to mention the lucrative work of Brisbane company, Ferra Engineering. It produces ‘weapons adaptors’ that hold and release the bombs that kill civilians. Ferra’s website proudly states that they are ‘the sole source supplier’ for the F-35s. Lockheed has awarded contracts worth more than $4 billion to 70 Australian companies in order to keep the production lines for these killing machines humming.

HYPOCRISY

Meanwhile the Prime Minister makes speeches about how Israel must act responsibly, show restraint, avoid killing civilians and not to target aid workers. It has a ghastly hollow ring to it.

Political opportunism is added to lies and hypocrisy. Six months after the assault on Gaza, the Australian government sprang into action. The killing of Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom saw the Australian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, the rest of Cabinet and the media, release a flurry of statements. Albanese described Israel’s initial explanation for the deaths as “inadequate.”

In an interview the PM declared that, “we don’t find the explanations satisfactory to this point … We need proper accountability, full transparency about the circumstances and I think that is what the Australian public would expect.” His confected outrage did not go so far as to say what would be ‘adequate.’ He did not hint at any sanctions against Israel, either diplomatic or in relation to trade between the countries. He was silent about the delivery of parts for F-35s that keep the killing machine operating.

There is both group-speak and group-think among world leaders at moments like this. The script is well rehearsed. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary David Cameron, were officially appalled by the “completely unacceptable killing of aid workers.” The British demanded “thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened.”

Britain, however, has promised to keep providing weapons. So too will the USA. Australian companies will continue turning a profit. This is politics at its most transparent.

(see ‘Israel, Palestine, and the world’ for a run down of reactions from other countries)

BACKLASH

The Penny Wong speech came as the Muslim festival of Eid, marking the end of Ramadan was being celebrated. Significantly, Australian political leaders were not invited to the Lakemba Mosque to take part. The message was clear. Is it cynical to suggest that the ALP is seeking to save a seat or two from a very well-deserved voter backlash against its complicity in genocide?

Nasser Mashni, of APAN is right to welcome the statement that the Australian government might, finally be about to take the step of accepting Palestine’s right to statehood. He is also right to sound a note of caution. That nagging little escape clause of Wong’s, that “no decision” has been made, is a reminder that the ALP will ultimately do what it deems best for the ALP, and that the Australian government will do nothing that might alienate the USA.

Statements calling for ‘pathways’ and the like, are not commitments. If, as is predicted, the USA vetoes the UN resolution, then the Australian government will happily slip back into a status quo that maintains a complicity with actions of the regime in Israel.

THE KILLING CONTINUES

The Australian government, like those of its close allies in the Western world, continue to downplay the fact that since 7 October there have been more than 33,000 deaths, including 12,000 children and 76,000 wounded in Gaza. It largely ignores the fact that more than 500 Palestinians, including 100 children have been killed and more than 8,000 arrested in the West Bank. It will ignore the fact that Israeli missile and air strikes in Lebanon have displaced 90,000 civilians, that a medical centre in Lebanon has been destroyed, that hundreds of Lebanese have been killed, that the Iranian embassy in Syria has been bombed and that more than 40 airstrikes have targeted Syria.

Talk of ‘pathways’ is fine but action is required.

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