Gareth Smith (NSW) writes to the Byron Echo re Australian action over Japanese whaling but not Palestine 28Jun13 June 27, 2013

 The Australian government should be congratulated for referring Japan’s “whaling research” to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  Australia’s decision is courageous in light of how close and important our relationship with Japan is. For example, Japan is our second largest trading partner with merchandise exports in 2010 – 2011 of $47 billion and the importance of our defence relationship was underscored in 2007 by the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.

When Australia turns to Israel however, its courage wavers even though our trade is about 74 times smaller than that with Japan and we have no defence relationship to speak of.  In 2004 the ICJ declared Israel’s security barrier (Apartheid Wall to the Palestinians) illegal and the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to accept Resolution ES-10/15 condemning the barrier. Israel, the US, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau and Australia voted against the resolution.

There can be no doubt that Australia was fully aware of the dreadful impact of the wall on every aspect of the daily lives of Palestinians and there can be no doubt about Australia’s commitment to international law. Unlike  the US and Israel we signed up to the ICJ in 2002. No doubt, Australia probably reneged on its commitment to principles of justice and humanitarian concern because of US pressure in support of Israel. In regard to whaling, the US does not appear to have influenced Australia’s decision to go after Japan. Perhaps the US and Australia think whales are more important than Palestinians.

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