ALP at odds with voters

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim.

THE Labor Party may be set to endorse unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at its conference in July, but a new poll has revealed that only a fraction of its voters are in favour.

In the YouGov Galaxy poll conducted in February, commissioned by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), only 13 per cent of respondents favoured recognising a Palestinian state without a peace deal. Among Labor voters, the figure was 14 per cent.

Twenty-five per cent of Labor voters favoured recognition after the conclusion of a peace deal, while 14 per cent said recognition should only come after all Palestinian groups renounced violence.

Of all 1205 respondents polled, 35 per cent gave a response of “don’t know”, a figure that according to ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim, “reflects the fact that the Israel–Palestinian conflict is not front-of-mind for most Australians, and demonstrates a reluctance by many to express definitive views on issues which they recognise are complex”.

Wertheim added, “Those who simplistically advocate immediate and unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state are recklessly disregarding whether this would help end the conflict or make it worse.”

In the last few years, NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australian Labor have passed motions recognising Palestine or calling on Federal Labor to do so.

It is expected the federal party will follow suit this year and would be bound by that position in government.

Zionist Federation of Australia president Danny Lamm told The AJN the electorate has always recognised that Israel seeks peace while the Palestinians have remained intransigent.

“This study reflected that accurately and hopefully those members in the Labor Party who are seeking to change the bipartisan support for Israel in this country will recognise that a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state is inimical to the pursuit of peace,” he said.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said the “vociferous few pushing this agenda in the ALP are out of touch with their base”.

“The vast majority understand that it would be counterproductive to recognise such a state until there is a peace agreement,” he said.

GARETH NARUNSKY