Former Labor Minister Mike Kelly slams Anthony Albanese on Palestine UN vote

Former federal Labor minister Mike Kelly has criticised the Albanese government for backing Palestine’s bid for UN membership, warning the breakdown of bipartisanship on the issue threatened the “moral underpinning of our foreign policy”. Australia’s decision at the UN to vote yes on a motion to give Palestine more “rights and privileges”, but not full state recognition, has been criticised by Jewish leaders and political figures in both Labor and the Coalition. The intervention from Dr Kelly came as Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “many Australians” will question whether Labor still supports the state of Israel, while Peter Dutton labelled the government’s UN vote as “utterly illogical, ill-timed, and inappropriate”. Dr Kelly, co-convener of Labor Friends of Israel, said the government should have abstained on the UN resolution, and he was concerned Labor’s position was out of step with AUKUS allies the US and UK. He said the pursuit of a two-state solution was undermined by the UN resolution and its failure to call for Hamas to be removed from Gaza and for the release of 130 Israeli hostages.

Dr Kelly, a senior army officer before entering parliament in 2007, said he was worried about the timing of the resolution, given negotiations are under way between Israel and Hamas on a hostage release deal. The retired former minister said it was problematic Australia’s position on the Israel-Palestine issue was no longer bipartisan. “We have to be very clear about the moral underpinning of our foreign policy,” he said. “In these current circumstances it is of course complicated, but we don’t want to confuse the public by having a divide appearing within our political landscape. “It is always better to approach this Middle East issue on a bipartisan basis.” Dr Kelly urged the government to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation, as called for by the Coalition. Mr Leibler said Australia endorsing the UN resolution would “weaken the moderate voices within Palestinian society, strengthen Hamas and reward the terrorism”. “This decision by the Albanese government will cause many Australians now to doubt whether the proud and longstanding bipartisan position in support of the state of Israel remains,” he said.

“The Palestinians have rejected every peace plan ever offered to them. Granting additional rights and privileges now, in the aftermath of Hamas’s perpetration of the deadliest attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust, will only encourage that rejectionism and refusal to compromise.” Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus says the relationship between Israel and Australia has been on “very thin ice”. Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the resolution, which did not call for the release of Hamas or the release of Israeli hostages, is widely supported among the federal Labor caucus. The Opposition Leader Peter Dutton told The Australian the Albanese government joining 142 other nations to back Palestine’s UN bid was “sending a clear message that it tolerates the use of terrorism and barbarism as a means to achieve political ends”. “The Albanese government’s decision to back Palestine’s bid for full UN membership at this point in time is utterly illogical, ill-timed, and inappropriate,” Mr Dutton said. “It is yet a further example of misjudgment from a weak government that has shown a failure of leadership and treated our ally, Israel, with utter disdain.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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