Important opportunity lost over Palestine

Aug 14, 2017No Comments »

14 August 2017, via The Advertiser

South Australia Legislative Council vote wrongly supports business as usual for Israel over Palestine

by Mike Khizam, AFOPA

The issue of Palestine has split the South Australian Parliament with the Upper House failing to adopt the same pro-active stance taken by the House of Assembly in June.

A motion put by Greens MP Tammy Franks that the Australian Government should recognise Palestine as a state failed to pass last week, while Andrew Mclachlan’s amended motion was carried. This was a do nothing motion.

Although the Upper House motion is not in agreement with the one passed in the House of Assembly, it does not reverse the earlier decision.

The House of Assembly motion still stands with its call for recognition now by the Australian Government of the state of Palestine for the sake of peace.

The new motion effectively supports business as usual for Israel and its fifty year occupation of the Palestinian territories. It only supports recognition at the end of negotiations; at the end of a currently non-existent peace process.

Recognition of Palestine by other states is not put forward as an alternative to negotiations. Rather, recognition is designed to help force the Israelis to engage in genuine negotiations and to stop activities, like settlement building on Palestinian land, that undermine the possibility of peace.

Recognition by countries like Australia helps the prospects of peace by sending a strong message to Israel that it cannot keep whittling away at the Palestinian territories and that its military occupation cannot continue indefinitely.

Our recognition of Palestine does not impose peace on Israel, it throws peace a lifeline.

The reality is that the power disparity between Israel and the Palestinians has seen Israel impose its will on another people. It has been doing this for fifty years.

Israel occupies Palestinian territories by force of arms and maintains this through fear: the fear of being killed; the fear of torture; the fear of detention without trial; the fear of having your home demolished; the fear of losing your family members, friends and livelihood.

Palestinians are desperate for peace, for normality, for security, and for a future for their children.

In 1948 they lost 78 per cent of their country to the new state of Israel, and were denied self- determination in their own homeland because they were Muslims and Christians.

Around 750,000 people, then half of the Palestinian population were ethnically cleansed. Over twenty years ago the Palestinian leadership made peace with Israel and accepted the loss of 78 per cent of their country.

Despite this the supporters of Israel are still claiming that the Palestinians must recognise Israel and all the while Israel takes more and more of Palestine and uses the fig leaf of the peace process to cover the theft of land.

Israel’s conquest of most of Palestine 70 years ago is irreversible but Israel’s ongoing colonisation of the territory taken in 1967 must be stopped if we are to have a viable two state solution. Israel has 700,000 to 800,000 Israeli settlers on Palestinian land.

Israel must either give the Palestinians their freedom or give them the vote.

Israel is on the wrong side of history in so far as it pursues colonial expansion and constructs a new apartheid state in the occupied territories.

Israel has successfully pursued a strategy of sidelining the UN, international law and its obligations under agreements it has signed.

It continues to fight any sign of support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people including in Australia. We cannot just have more of the same.

The motion passed in the House of Assembly showed that Australians are awake to what is going on.

The motion passed in the Legislative Council only serves to tell us that we just have a little further to go, but not much more before this country joins the other 138 in the world who recognise Palestine.

Mike Khizam is Executive Officer, Australian Friends of Palestine Association

The article was in response to Eran Lerman: South Australian politicians have made right decision voting against unilateral recognition of Palestine, 11 August 2017

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