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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has taken Australian policy a modest step towards embracing recognition of a Palestine state ahead of a two-state solution, as a pathway to a lasting Middle East peace.

In a Tuesday speech to an Australian National University national security conference dinner, Wong said the international community was “now considering the question of Palestinian statehood as a way of building momentum towards a two-state solution”.

She quoted British Foreign Secretary David Cameron saying the United Kingdom “will look at the issue of recognising a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations”. Cameron said this could make a two-state solution irreversible.

“There are always those who claim recognition is rewarding an enemy,” Wong said. But she said this was wrong on two counts.

“First, because Israel’s own security depends on a two-state solution.

“There is no long-term security for Israel unless it is recognised by the countries of its region.

“But the normalisation agenda that was being pursued before [the] October 7 [Hamas attacks] cannot proceed without progress on Palestinian statehood,” she said.

Read more:
Explainer: what is the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

“Second, because there is no role for Hamas in a future Palestinian state. Hamas is a terrorist organisation which has the explicit intent of the destruction of the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Wong said recognising a Palestinian state, which could only exist beside a secure Israel, did not just offer the Palestinians “an opportunity to realise their aspirations”, but also “strengthens the forces for peace, and undermines extremism”. The extremists included Hamas, Iran and Iran’s other proxies in the region.

“A two-state solution is the only hope to break the endless cycle of violence,” she said.

The Albanese government’s policy has been for a two-state solution, but it has not embraced recognising a Palestinian state ahead of that. The Labor Party’s 2023 national platform goes further. It says Labor:

  • supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognised borders

  • calls on the Australian government to recognise Palestine as a state.

In her speech Wong said Israel “must make major and immediate changes” to its military operations, in order to protect civilians, journalists and aid workers.

Earlier this week, the government appointed a former chief of the Australian Defence Force, Mark Binskin, to probe Israel’s investigation of its attack on a World Central Kitchen’s aid convoy in Gaza. Seven people, including Australian Zomi Frankcom, were killed.

Wong said Israel “must comply with the binding orders of the International Court of Justice, including to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance at scale”.

The foreign minister also expressed dismay at the local divisions the conflict is causing.

“It is disheartening to witness the number of Australians that increasingly struggle to discuss this conflict without condemning their fellow citizens. This imperils our democracy. We have to keep listening to each other; respecting each other.

“But I have heard language demonstrating that people are losing respect for each other’s humanity. Blatant antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

She condemned politicians who were “manipulating legitimate and heartfelt community concern for their own ends.

“The Greens political party is willing to purposely amplify disinformation, exploiting distress in a blatant and cynical play for votes. With no regard for the social disharmony they are fuelling. This is not some game. There are consequences.

“At the same time, [Opposition Leader Peter] Dutton reflexively dismisses concern for Palestinians as ‘Hamas sympathising’. On this, and in his approach to the world, Mr Dutton needs to decide if he wants to be a leader in difficult times – or if he wants to continue being a wrecking ball, making those times even more difficult.”

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Penny Wong floats recognising Palestine ahead of two-state solution to help path to peace –