A DAY after former prime minister Kevin Rudd urged Israel to “urgently reconsider” its planned annexation of large parts of the West Bank, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has formally opposed the proposal.
In a statement on Tuesday, deputy Labor leader Richard Marles and shadow minister for foreign affairs Penny Wong said Labor “opposes the annexation of land in the West Bank by the Israeli government”.
“Annexation of any part of the West Bank will weaken the viability of any future Palestinian state, undermine the prospect of a two-state solution, violate international law and risk destabilising Israel’s neighbours, which the world cannot afford,” they said.
Stating that while Labor “is a strong supporter of the state of Israel”, the party expects the Australian government to “join with likeminded countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain in making these concerns clear”.
“Unilateral annexation would jeopardise Israel’s security,” Marles and Wong said.
“We continue to call on both sides of the conflict to refrain from any actions that hamper peaceful outcomes for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.”
Labor’s opposition to the move comes on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s July 1 target date for the proposal, which designates some 30 per cent of the West Bank for Israel and the rest for a prospective Palestinian state.
The AJN has approached Foreign Minister Marise Payne for comment.
Jewish community leaders in Australia said they were “closely monitoring” developments in Israel.
“At present, no announcement has been made as to whether any such action will take place, and if so, over what areas and on what terms,” the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said.
“It is also unclear whether or not the extension of sovereignty would be in the context of the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Further coverage in this week’s AJN.