Anti-Israel motion defeated

Stephen Price (left) with Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten ahead of the WA election earlier this year. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled.

A vehemently anti-Israel motion was defeated at the Western Australia Labor Conference on the weekend.

The motion claimed “the Israeli government has continually sabotaged peace talks” and that Israeli settlements “are designed and strategically placed to prevent a Palestinian state from ever being established”.

It also stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “re-elected on a platform stating there would be no Palestinian state” and that Palestinians “are persistently denied basic dignity and human rights under military occupation”.

The motion further called for Australian Federal Labor Party to recognise Palestine “as a sovereign nation state based on 1967 borders”.

Western Australian politician Stephen Price, a foundation member of the Friends of Israel of WA, spoke against the motion.

“I’ve been on two trips to the area and I met with Palestinian Authority representatives, Palestine Liberation Organisation negotiators and members of the Knesset,” Price told The AJN. “The one thing that I do know is that for Israel to live in peace and security, there has to be an acceptable position reached with the Palestinians and what was proposed at conference wasn’t going to help.”

Price said it took a “reasonable amount of work” to have the motion overturned.

Instead, a motion similar to the one adopted at the NSW Labor Conference recently was passed.

It states that WA Labor State Conference “supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist within secure and recognised borders and urges the next Labor government to recognise Palestine.”

Australian columnist Troy Bramston wrote on Tuesday that Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten may have to back the calls to recognise Palestine at the next Federal Labor Conference. Bramston reported that former Queensland Labor vice-president Wendy Turner said the Western Australian conference will send another “strong signal” to federal Labor, following the NSW, Queensland, ACT and Tasmanian conferences.

But Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim told The AJN that Turner is misrepresenting the motions. “The paragraph preceding the call for recognition ‘supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist within secure and recognised borders’,” Wertheim said.

“In NSW, that paragraph was inserted over the strenuous objections of Israel’s opponents.

“The reason they objected is that the expression ‘secure and recognised borders’ necessarily implies an Israeli–Palestinian peace agreement as a sine qua non of Palestinian statehood and recognition.

“Without such an agreement, the borders would necessarily remain disputed, not ‘secure and recognised’.”