MIDDLE EAST REALITY CHECK: “The company we keep” (How Australia voted in the UN) 23Dec10 December 23, 2010

Middle East Reality Check (MERC) blog -  23 December 2010

On the subject of foreign minister Kevin Rudd’s just concluded trip to Israel and the Middle East, the Sydney Morning Herald naively editorialised on 21 December that he had “not thrown Australia’s diplomatic weight, for what it is worth, at the critical pressure points in the jammed machinery of the region’s peace process,” and suggested that his “public appearances were a feel-good profession of Australian support for Israel.” (Mid-East peace: a time to speak) (See my last post for more on same.)

The key question of just why our political revellers… sorry, representatives – some 17 of them -were off partying hard in Israel did not occur to the editorialist, or, if it did, would no doubt have been dismissed with the thought, No, it’s simply not worth the hassle going there.

Australia’s callous indifference to Palestinian suffering and patently dysfunctional relationship with the Israeli apartheid state could, of course, have been predicted well in advance. All the editorialist needed to do was examine how and with whom we voted on the question of Palestine in the United Nations General Assembly last month (GA/11027), a matter for which Rudd and PM Gillard are currently and directly responsible, and which, incidentally, is part of a dismaying pattern unchanged since the Howard years.

By way of introduction, just to show you there was really nothing to frighten the horses in the 6 Palestine-related resolutions adopted, here are the first three paragraphs of the UN’s 30 November press release on the subject:

“Convinced that a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement to the question of Palestine – the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict – was imperative for lasting Middle East peace, the GA today stressed the urgent need for sustained international involvement, including by the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, to support both parties in resuming stalled peace negotiations. That position was echoed in a broad-based resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, adopted by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Tonga)… The text was one of 6 adopted by recorded vote in a flurry of action that capped the Assembly’s two-day discussion of that issue along with the broader quest for peace in the Middle East. By the terms of the text, the Assembly reaffirmed the illegality of Israeli actions intended to change the status of Jerusalem, and expressed deep concern at closures and severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, the establishment of checkpoints and the imposition of a permit regime throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, which had created a humanitarian crisis. Reaffirming its commitment to the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, the Assembly also stressed the need for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.”

Now let’s see how Australia voted on the other 5:

1) Draft resolution on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People: 112 in favour; 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, US); 54 abstentions

2) Draft resolution on the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat: 110 in favour; 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, US); 56 abstentions

3) Draft resolution on the Special Information Programme on Palestine: 167 in favour; 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, US); 2 abstentions

4) Draft resolution on Jerusalem: 166 in favour; 6 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, US); 4 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Panama, Tonga)

5) Draft resolution on the Syrian Golan: 118 in favour; 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, US; 52 abstentions (Australia…)

Australia’s (and Canada’s) vote in the GA acts as a vital diplomatic fig leaf covering the nakedness of Israel’s pariah status on the world stage. Our very public proximity to this pariah’s genitalia makes us a standing joke on the world stage.

And just to rub it in, here’s how we’ve been voting since Rudd’s visit (GA/11040, 20/12/10):

Draft resolution on the Oil Slick on Lebanese Shores*: 163 in favour; 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, US)

[*”By another text, relating to the oil slick on Lebanese shores, the Assembly requested for the fifth consecutive year, that Israel expediently and adequately compensate Lebanon for the costs of repairing the environmental damage caused by the Israeli Air Force’s destruction of oil storage tanks near the neighbouring country’s El-Jiyeh electric power plant, and to do the same for Syria, the shores of which had been partially polluted.” un.org]

Draft resolution on Permanent Sovereignty of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab Population in the Occupied Syrian Golan over their Natural Resources: 167 in favour; 8 againstAustralia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, US) (

Make no mistake, you become the company you keep.


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