An edited version of this letter appeared in
Australian Financial Review – 19 March 2015
Tony Walker (“Israel poll threatens Labor peace” 14-15 March) perpetuates a myth about the Israeli/Palestinian dispute – that the Netanyahu government is “committed to an expansion of Jewish settlements.” In fact, settlements have not expanded beyond their geographic boundaries since 2004, and housing starts in settlements were 19% less in the five years of the Netanyahu government than in the five previous years. Mr Netanyahu also implemented an unprecedented ten-month moratorium on the building of dwellings in settlements in 2009, to encourage peace talks, but was stymied by an intransigent Palestinian Authority.
Elsewhere, Walker seems to contradict himself where he acknowledges that those in the ALP pushing for resolutions in support of the Palestinians are heavily influenced by the importance of West Sydney’s Muslim vote, but then says Australia’s vote against a similar motion in the UN Security Council late last year was driven by political considerations, not the national interest.
Peace will only come through compromise from both sides. The Security Council motion would have discouraged any compromise from the Palestinians as it purported to give them what they wanted without any compromise. It was therefore very much in our national interest to oppose it.