Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
by James O’Neill*
On 27 December 2016 Gumshoe News published an earlier comment by me on the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2334 in which the Council unanimously condemned the ongoing measures by Israel to alter the “demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian territory it has occupied since the 1967 war.”
The Council confirmed that the establishment of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory had no legal validity and constituted a “flagrant violation of international law.”
The resolution outraged Israel. Prior to the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had telephoned New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully with a blatant threat to New Zealand if it continued its co-sponsorship of the resolution. Netanyahu reportedly told McCully that from Israel’s point of view “it will be a declaration of war………..and there will be consequences.”
This is extraordinary conduct, although not out of keeping with previous behaviour by senior Israeli government figures.
The Australian government through its Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has issued a statement that unequivocally places Australia in a tiny minority of the world’s nations in its unquestioning support for the international pariah that is the State of Israel.
Bishop said that Australia does not support “one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.” It would not have taken the same line as New Zealand. Rather, it remained “firmly committed to a two State solution.”
Lest anyone think that things would be different under a Labor government, their leader Bill Shorten, who has been in Israel this past week, quickly chimed in by describing Netanyahu as “a good friend of Australia.”
Well Bill, with friends like that, who needs enemies?
Shorten could have shown some political courage and intellectual honesty by asking Bishop to specify in what way was the Security Council Resolution “one –sided and targeting Israel?”
The resolution did little more than pointing out the blindingly obvious, except it would seem to those who inhabit the Canberra environment. Israel has for the past 50 years been in breach of international law, and shows absolutely no sign of changing its behaviour.
Exactly what part of Israeli settlements having “no legal validity and constituting a flagrant violation under international law” does Ms Bishop, Mr Shorten and their respective parties disagree with?
Equally, what part of “confiscation of land, and displacement of Palestinian citizens in violation of international humanitarian law” equals one-sidedness, or, more importantly, is other than objectively true?
Does Australia, whose own adherence to international law in multiple areas, as for example in the treatment of refugees, is similarly deplorable, really want to excuse or justify Israel’s conduct? Australia is one of the loudest supporters of the American mantra of ‘freedom of navigation’ but maintains a stunning silence when that concept is flagrantly breached by Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Does Bishop’s government really condone the blatant threat made to its ally and good friend, New Zealand? Isn’t a declaration of war worthy of at least some comment by the Australian government? Or does Australia not want to be put in the position of choosing between Israel and New Zealand in the uncomfortable knowledge, based on past performance, that such a choice would pose a real dilemma?
It would seem that Australia is already positioning itself as the loyal acolyte of the incoming Trump administration. The appointment of Donald Friedman as the US’s next ambassador and his reported views should ring alarm bells in Canberra. Friedman rejects the creation of a Palestinian State and supports Israel’s complete annexation of the West Bank.
How does Bishop square these views with her claimed “firm commitment” to the delusional concept of a two-State solution, that her very support of Israel has done much to render impossible in any meaningful sense. Are she and her government going to challenge Mr Friedman’s views? It would be unwise to hold one’s breath on that one.
The blunt truth is that Australia’s unquestioning support for what Philip Giraldi accurately describes as “a particularly noxious version of Israeli fascism” (Welcome to Greater Israel, Unz Review 27 December 2016) poses a serious threat to Australia’s own standing in the international community.
One is reminded yet again of the old joke about the mother watching her son in the passing out parade. Look, she says proudly, they are all out of step except my Johnny.
In international affairs, Australia is Johnny. It is not a good or enviable position to be in.
*Barrister at Law. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adapted photo: Israel Government Press Office