Palestinian question hots up for National Conference

News Update2The upcoming ALP National Conference, due to be held in Melbourne from 24 – 26 July, is starting to gather increased media attention, with a variety of issues scheduled to be debated by the tri-ennial decision-making body. One of those issues, likely to spark some heated debate, is the perennial question of Palestine.

With the ALP Right – a bastion of the pro-Israeli lobby – unable to secure an absolute majority at the conference, there is some speculation that a more ‘Palestinian-friendly’ policy could be the result. With this in mind, some sections of the Party have stepped up a co-ordinated campaign to persuade delegates to support the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Calwell MP, and co-convener of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, Maria Vamvakinou, recently wrote in The Age that the time had ‘come for the ALP to show moral fortitude and display political foresight by recognising the Palestinian state’. Her commentary expounded a number of reasons why she believed that the ALP needed to strengthen its position on the issue – a result of many of the disturbing events she observed when she visited the region in 2011. Indeed, according to Ms Vamvakinou, there are certainly  ‘compelling ethical, political, security and community reasons’ why the July conference should adopt a motion supporting the Palestinian state.

Last month, the Annerley Branch – as well as many other ALP branches – adopted a strongly worded resolution calling on the conference to support the recognition of a Palestinian state, based on the pre-1967 borders. The resolution was conveyed to a number of federal MPs and conference delegates, with a written response already received from Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek. In her letter, Ms Plibersek stated clearly that ‘Labor is committed to supporting an enduring and just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’. Whilst acknowledging the right of Israel to ‘live in peace within secure borders’, her reply recognises that the ‘two-state solution’ is the only means to achieving a long lasting settlement to hostilities in the area.

Labor’s foreign policy section of the national platform is due to be debated on Sunday 26 July.

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