But as today's Australian newspaper reports, Carr, riding roughshod over the stance of prime minister Julia Gillard, has argued strenuously for Australia to offer no opposition to the Palestinian Authority's bid later this week for observer status at the United Nations.
Some who agree with him point to demographic changes in certain constituencies, which have led politicians representing them to pay heed to Muslim opinion on the issue. Accordingly, Australia, rather than vote against the bid along with the United States and Israel, will abstain:
'.... Several ministers and backbenchers had been warning Gillard for weeks that the position on the UN vote, slated for Friday, needed to be finalised in order to instruct the ambassador to the UN, Gary Quinlan, on what to do.
They were seized by the dramatic change in the caucus on the Israel-Palestine issue, with several factors that have been slowly building within Labor -- Israel's settlement policy, increasing violence by settlers against Palestinians and a right-wing Israeli prime minister who backed Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.
There is concern both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are stalling on a two-state solution and that the outcome of the UN vote could positively energise those discussions.
And, critically, there is the growing Muslim and Christian make-up of several key western Sydney Labor seats, which have exposed MPs to different points of view on the Middle East.
Some sections of the party suggest Victorian Labor is too close to the Israel lobby and does not fully understand the underlying changes in Sydney's outer suburbs.
However, one Victorian minister said: "How are we going to solve Labor's challenges in western Sydney by the way we vote at the UN?"
Before the cabinet meeting late on Monday, Gillard met with senior ministers for two hours to discuss the UN vote. Carr sketched out the foreign policy argument for not opposing the Palestinian motion that he believed was in Australia's interests.
Environment Minister Tony Burke, holding a seat in southwest Sydney, explained the shift in the community he had been feeling on this issue for a long time...
Before this meeting, Gillard made an extraordinary request to the NSW Right faction convenor and chief government whip, Joel Fitzgibbon. She wanted him to bind the Right behind her position. Fitzgibbon refused.Meanwhile, former prime minister Bob Hawke, a long-time ardent supporter of Israel, was arguing behind the scenes for Australia not to oppose the motion on Palestine. So had his foreign minister, Gareth Evans, who warned Labor MPs and senators not to be "on the wrong side of history"....'Reacting to the abstention decision, the shadow Foreign Minister, Senator Julie Bishop, said:
"The Coalition is disappointed that the Government has decided to abstain from voting at the United Nations on the matter of Palestinian Observer Status.
The Coalition believes Australia should vote against this bid as we do not believe that this is the path to peace and reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Our concern is that the drive for greater recognition at the United Nations is an attempt by Palestinian leaders to enable them to bring action against Israel through the international courts.
It also risks conferring increased international status on the militant group Hamas which governs Gaza.
This action is likely to escalate and prolong the conflict, rather than lead to a resolution of disputes.
The path to peace is for the Palestinian leadership to officially recognise the right of Israel to exist and to halt the firing of rockets and mortars as part of a campaign by militants to terrorise and kill Israeli civilians.Australia has long supported the two-state solution and the right of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live peacefully and in safety within internationally recognised borders. We urge both sides to resume negotiations towards a lasting peace in the region."Further details on this issue are available here
Hat tip to reader Shirlee for this link to an ABC feature about young Aussie Jews proudly preparing to make aliyah.
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