5 December 2012
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council today labelled the intense focus on the issue of Israeli settlements by Foreign Minister Bob Carr “misplaced”, “disproportionate” and “counter-productive.”
AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM stated ” Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s decision to publicly rebuke Israel’s Ambassador to Australia based on the contention that construction in settlements constitutes a major obstacle to progress toward a two-state solution is severely misplaced.”
“Moreover, his use of this issue to justify Australia’s vote on the Palestinian UN bid in violation of the Oslo Accords has been counter-productive toward achieving the Australian goal of kick-starting viable negotiations advancing a two-state outcome”, he argued.
“Israeli policies in place since 2004 have prevented all new settlement building or expansion of the boundaries of existing settlements and Israel’s recent announcements about new construction are consistent with those policies. Moreover, the settlements currently take up less than 2% of the West Bank, meaning that it is simply not true that any current or likely future growth in settlements will substantially affect the size or viability of a future Palestinian state, as the Foreign Minister alleges”, Dr Rubenstein added.
“Senator Carr’s focus on the settlements issue not only incorrectly diagnoses the problem, but damages the credibility of both himself and Australia in dealing with key players in Middle East peacemaking, especially Israel, but also the US,” Rubenstein concluded.
AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler AC said “The Foreign Minister’s excessive focus on settlements has distracted from any effort to identify other issues of much greater significance if peace is to be achieved.”
“By far the most important of these is the fact that the Palestinian leadership is refusing to engage in any constructive negotiations with their Israeli counterparts, despite repeated, ongoing pleas from Jerusalem to do so.”
“Any reasonable contribution on these impediments to peace will also include incitement in Palestinian schools and official media, the continued rejectionism of elements of the PLO, corruption and misuse of international aid, lack of Palestinian Authority elections, and the continued inability of the Palestinian Authority to speak for all of the Palestinian people, with Hamas in control of Gaza, unreconstructed in its determination to destroy Israel,” Mr Leibler concluded.
Dr Colin Rubenstein AM
Executive Director, AIJAC
Tel. +61 3 9681 6660, Fax. +61 3 9681 6650