Jewish Labor MP Josh Burns Condemns UN Vote on Palestine

One of Labor’s most prominent Jewish MPs, Josh Burns, has blasted the Albanese government’s vote in favour of Palestinian UN membership and said it will further isolate Jewish Australians facing anti-Semitism in the wake of the war in Gaza. The UN General Assembly voted by 143 to nine, with 25 countries abstaining, to make Palestine the 194th full member of the UN, a largely symbolic move almost certain to be blocked in the Security Council where the US wields a veto.  Mr Burns said on Instagram that while the UN motion had been watered down to not give Palestine state recognition, his government had gone too far by voting yes while terror group Hamas are still in a position of power in Gaza. Mr Burns – who recently visited the site of the October 7 massacres in Israel – said Australia should have abstained instead of voting yes. “Hamas are still holding 130 hostages, and remains the governing authority in Gaza,” he said. “The reaction from the Jewish people will rightly question the timing of this vote.

“Antisemitism is on the rise in Australia and the decision to vote yes at the UN will make Jewish Australians feel more isolated as they remain gravely concerned for the hostages in Gaza.” Mr Burns referenced Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s own words in which she said Australia would only progress to support Palestinian statehood if Hamas played no role in governing it and there was a functioning Palestinian Authority that was no threat to Israel. “In my opinion, these conditions have not been met yet,” Mr Burns said. “An abstention would have signaled we’re open to further recognition but that we acknowledge the short-term hurdles that need to be overcome in order to achieve lasting peace. Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic backed Australia’s United Nations vote and said Palestine becoming an official member of the UN was a “matter of if, not when”. “Last night, this important step was taken,” Mr. Husic wrote online. “Australia along with a vast majority of the UN General Assembly backed a resolution to grant rights and privileges to Palestine.

“The resolution urged the UN Security Council to “favourably reconsider” its request for Palestine to become the 194th member of the international body. Earlier, Senator Wong said Australia voted “yes” to greater recognition of Palestine as part of broader support for a two-state solution. The Foreign Minister said the resolution was only the “extension of some modest additional rights” for Palestine to participate in UN forums. “I want to be extremely clear again that this vote is not about whether Australia recognises Palestine,” Senator Wong said. “We will do that when we think the time is right. “What I do say is that Australia no longer believes recognition can only come at the end of the peace process – it could occur as part of the peace process.” She said the vote did not give Palestine voting rights at the General Assembly, nor did it give Palestine membership of the UN. “What it did do, consistent with the two-state solution, was to express the General Assembly’s aspiration for Palestinian membership of the United Nations, noting that this must be recommended by the United Nations Security Council, consistent with the UN Charter.

“This resolution enables expanded Palestinian participation in the United Nations, and in doing this, the international community is setting out its expectations that parties resume negotiations for tangible progress.” “It didn’t indicate the United Nations or Australia recognise a Palestinian state. “I want to say this is a clear rejection of the goals and methods of Hamas. “A two-state solution, both Israel and Palestine, is the opposite of what Hamas wants. “Hamas does not want peace and it does not want long-term security for the state of Israel. “The rejection of Hamas is among the reasons why Australia voted for this resolution.” Addressing Australia’s Jewish community, Senator Wong said she understood there was distress and isolation. “You are valued members of our community. You have a right to be safe, you have a right to feel safe and anti-Semitism has no place anywhere. “This resolution that we have supported is about long-term peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. I truly believe that the only path to securing peace and security for Israel is with the establishment of two states.”

She said the next step was to see an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” negotiated. Australia’s ambassador to the United Nations James Larsen said Canberra had been “frustrated” by a “lack of progress” and wanted to signal “unwavering support for the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security within recognised borders”. “There is a role for the international community to build momentum, set expectations that parties resume negotiations for tangible progress and to support efforts for a political process. Australia no longer accepts that recognition can only come at the end of the peace process”. “Australia has long believed a two-state solution offers the only hope for breaking the endless cycle of violence and achieving lasting peace,” he added. The US voted against the measure along with Israel, Hungary, Argentina, Czechia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guines and Palau. Canada and the UK abstained. The US had already vetoed a similar measure to grant Palestine, which since 2012 has been recognised as an ‘observer state’ by the UN, statehood on 18th April.

US deputy ambassador Robert Wood said the US backed a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, but the time wasn’t right. “It remains the US view that unilateral measures at the UN and on the ground will not advance this goal,” he said. “Our vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood. We’ve been very clear that we support it and seek to advance it meaningfully. Instead, it is an acknowledgment that statehood will come only from a process that involves direct negotiations between the parties,” he added. The vote came against a backdrop of a growing rift between the US and Israel over Jerusalem’s attack on Rafah in southern Gaza, which the Biden administration has argued risked killing too many civilians, threatening to block future weapons shipments to Israel. President Joe Biden delivered a rare rebuke to Israel in an interview on CNN, declaring a full-scale invasion of Rafah would cross a US ‘red line’ that would jeopardise the transfer of certain artillery shells and bombs to Israel.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison dubbed the nation’s controversial UN vote as “the most hostile policy act of an Australian Government to the State of Israel in our history”. “Such recognition must only occur where there is agreement and when Palestine can be a functional state,” Mr Morrison wrote on X. “It is currently governed by terrorists. It has been taken at a time when Jewish Australians confront a disgraceful wave of anti-Semitism and Israel is fighting in self-defence for its very existence, against Hamas – a recognised terrorist organisation in Australia – that attacked its people on October 7 and seeks to destroy Israel and its people. “This is what the terrorists wanted. This is why Hamas attacked Israel. “Terribly saddened and disappointed.” He followed the statement with hashtags of #October7 and #NeverAgain. Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said Australia’s vote at the United Nations General Assembly was only “advancing the wishes of terrorists”.

“Labor’s support for the resolution sends a shameful message that violence and terrorism get results ahead of negotiation and diplomacy,” Senator Birmingham said. “This resolution, supported by Australia due to the change in position taken by the Albanese government, creates the wrong incentives and risks further harming prospects for long term peace. “It is evident now that the Prime Minister has misled Australians for weeks by saying he hasn’t changed Australia’s position. “Clearly the speech Minister Wong made last month was Labor limbering up to change Australia’s foreign policy position and to further widen the gulf between Australia and important allies.” He said the government had “proven that they lack the courage to stand against pressure” and their vote was “also out of step with key partners”. Foreign Minister Penny Wong had not earlier revealed how Australia would vote. “I understand in this debate that people have such strong views on both sides, that any action or words by government is construed as either being at one end or the other of this debate,” she said.

In dramatic scenes a furious Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan put a copy of the UN charter into a paper shredder while holding up a photograph of Hamas’s leader Yahya Sinwar with the word ‘president’. “You are shredding the UN charter with your own hands … That’s what you’re doing, shredding the UN charter. Shame on you,” he told the chamber, adding the UN would be letting a “terror state … into its ranks” that would be led by the “Hitler of our times”. He accused UN member nations of not mentioning Hamas’ October 7th attack in southern Israel, which killed 1,200 people, and seeking “to reward modern-day Nazis with rights and privileges.” The ambassador said if an election were held today, Hamas would win, warning members were “about to grant privileges and rights to the future terror state of Hamas.” Under the UN Charter, prospective members of the United Nations must be “peace-loving”, and the Security Council must recommend their admission to the General Assembly for final approval. Palestine became a U.N. non-member observer state in 2012.

The vote reflected the wide global support for full membership of Palestine in the UN as many countries have expressed outrage at the escalating death toll in Gaza, which Palestinian authorities put at over 34,000 and fears of a major Israeli offensive in Rafah, a southern city where about 1.3 million Palestinians have sought refuge. The renewed push for full Palestinian membership in the UN comes as the war in Gaza has put the more than 75-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict at centre stage. Before the vote, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN Ambassador, told the assembly in an emotional speech that “no words can capture what such loss and trauma signify for Palestinians, their families, communities and for our nation as a whole.” On Friday, Jewish groups labelled the motion “counter-productive to peace”. “It rewards Hamas violence and removes any incentive for the Palestinian Authority to implement the vital reforms required to prevent Palestine, once it emerges from being a corrupt terrorist state,” Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry wrote in a letter to Foreign Minister Penny Wong that “voting to admit Palestine as a full member when no functioning state exists is inconsistent with the past practice of Australian governments concerning the criteria for recognition”. Senator Wong is understood to have had a phone call on with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa to discuss Palestinian statehood. “Countries are still negotiating … there is a lot of discussion,” Senator Wong said. “We will look at what the actual meaning of the resolution is,” she added. “We are focused on the situation on the ground, we want a humanitarian ceasefire, we want the release of hostages, we want to increase humanitarian aid.” The UN action comes as Israel launched fresh strikes in the Gaza Strip after negotiators who had been pursuing a long-stalled truce deal left talks in Cairo without having secured a deal. Artillery salvos hit Rafah on the territory’s southern border with Egypt, while airstrikes and fighting was reported in Gaza City further north.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post

Comments are closed