The Abbott government has refused to join with over 100 countries in the UN condemning the expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestine land. See former foreign minister, Bob Carr’s article below and send your letters and emails to Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and Palestinian Cabinet minister and Treasurer, Joe Hockey.
Bob Carr, 19 November 2013, Brisbane Times
Last week the UN considered two motions to condemn the expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Since 2008 Australia has voted for such condemnation. But Julie Bishop has delivered for supporters of the Netanyahu government in Australia. We shifted our vote to avoid criticising the Israeli position.
Even with peace talks under way there is a frantic burst of settlement activity. According to the Israeli organisation Peace Now there has been a 70 per cent rise in construction starts compared with the equivalent period last year. And only 32 per cent were west of the fence or separation barrier; that is, on territory likely to be exchanged with Israel in an eventual peace trade-off. The rest is on land that will be in a future Palestine.
This hugely complicates the peace process.
Our new position of condoning “the settlement mission” of expansionist Israelis (opposed by other Israelis) undermines the prospect of a Palestinian state. Yet this is essential to a lasting peace, based on the 1947 UN decision that supported both a Jewish and Arab state in Palestine. It violates the rights and reasonable expectations of the Palestinians.
And this new Australian stance is not the action of a true friend of Israel. The country may end up holding a slab of territory that resembles the Greater Israel that some members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet advocate. But it means Israel will be governing a despairing population of 2.7 million Arabs living in conditions dramatically inferior to those of the 400,000 to 650,000 settlers (Peace Now uses the high figure and it varies according to whether one includes the settlers in East Jerusalem). The settler population occupy the favoured terrain, draw three times as much water per head and use reserved infrastructure.
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak claims that hard “retentionists” in Israel are creating “an apartheid state”. When I spoke to Barak last year he deliberately refrained from using a word “used about another country on another continent”, as he put it to me. But critics of Israel will not hesitate to invoke apartheid if, without a Palestinian state, Arabs on the West Bank live in undeniably inferior circumstances to those of their Jewish neighbours.
This would condemn Israel to a reality captured in the recent movie The Gatekeepers (a tribute to Israel’s capacity for searching self-criticism) in which six former heads of Shin Bet talk on the hopelessness of endless battles with a restive Arab population. One Shin Bet leader spoke about having a son in the paratroopers who’s been required to invade Nablus on three occasions. He says, “Did it bring us victory? I don’t think so”.
All settlement activity is illegal under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention states that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. In 1967 West Bank territories were won from Jordan in the Six Day War. Then-prime minister Levi Eshkol sought advice on the legality of settlements. His chief law officer, Theodor Meron, came back with this: it would be simply illegal under international law because of the Geneva Convention. Again, Israel’s own liberal instincts rebuke the state’s chauvinists and ultra-religious.
Last week’s announcement of 3500 new settlements forced John Kerry, US Secretary of State, to lament that more settlements raise questions about Israel’s commitment to peace. He asked, “How can you say, ‘We’re planning to build in the place that will eventually be Palestine?’” In other words, how can the Israeli cabinet repeat its support of a two-state solution and continue to lay down suburbs on land that must comprise a Palestinian state?
The US position is that all settlements – every one of them – are illegitimate.
It’s clear how Australia should vote on this, namely, the way we have since 2008. It is a shame – in the deepest sense – that we stopped doing the right thing.
Bob Carr is former Australian foreign affairs minister and NSW premier.
Below are letters from the State of Palestine to the United Nations detailing the impact of the “illegal Israeli settlement enterprise” on both Palestinians and the deteriorating peace negotiations.
3 November 2013, by PALESTINE AT THE UN
Just three months ago, the international community was filled with high hopes that the renewal of negotiations, after a prolonged and deleterious impasse, would bring about a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in accordance with the longstanding terms of reference of the two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders within the agreed negotiating period of six to nine months. It is regretful that throughout this duration of the past three months of the negotiations, these hopes have been constantly and seriously eroded by the illegal actions committed by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the territory constituting the State of Palestine.
Israel’s obsession with its illegal settlement enterprise, including the destruction, theft and confiscation of Palestinian lands and properties, as well as its forced displacement of Palestinian families, to make way for its illegally transferred settler population and the construction of thousands more of settlement units, is gravely encroaching on the Palestinian land and on Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination, and on the viability of the two-State solution. In this regard, we call upon the international community to condemn the intent by the occupying Power to displace over 15,000 Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras Khamis and Ras Shahada, where demolition orders were issued to over 200 residential blocks, continuing with its ethnic cleansing and Judaization campaign in the City.
The recent announcements regarding plans for the advancement of thousands more settlement units and other settlement projects throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, has again exposed Israel’s true negative intentions vis-à-vis peace and the two-State solution. The occupying Power has further announced the following plans: 860 units in the settlements of “Ariel”, north of Salfit, “Ma’aleh Adumim”, east of Jerusalem “Givat Ze’ev” built on the lands of Al Jib north of Jerusalem, “Betar Ilit”, west of Bethlehem, “Karnei Shomron” northwest of Salfit and “Elkana” west of Salfit; 162 units in the “Yakir” settlement near Qalqilya; 296 units in the “Beit El” settlement near Ramallah; 31 units in the “Al Mog” settlement near Jericho; 95 units in the “Shilo” settlement; 3,700 units in the “Ramat Shlomo” settlement; “Kadeem Tourism and Archeological Center” in Silwan and the “Mount Scopus Slopes Park”, which connects to the so-called “E1” area on the lands of al-Issawyia and At-Tur. …
Read the full letter here at Palestine at the UN >>
13 November 2013, by PALESTINE AT THE UN
I am compelled to draw your urgent attention to the critical situation both on the ground and in the status of the recently resumed peace negotiations. The prospects for realizing a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, on the basis of the two-State solution enshrined in relevant United Nations resolutions and on which there is an international consensus, are being deliberately sabotaged by Israel’s illegal and reckless settlement campaign in the Occupied State of Palestine.
Yesterday, 12 November, the Israeli NGO Peace Now exposed plans by Israel, the occupying Power, to construct more than 20,000 new settlement units, including in the so-called “E1” area, according to tenders provocatively announced by the Government’s Housing Ministry. This massive settlement expansion, which would result in transfer of an exponential number of Israeli settlers – in addition to the more than half a million settlers already illegally transferred by Israel to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the territory that constitutes the State of Palestine – is a stark indication of Israel’s total contempt for international law, United Nations resolutions and the international consensus demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement activities. …
Read the full letter here at Palestine at the UN >>