The last week has proved more than any that we are fortunate to live in a country like Australia. And for us women, there has never been a time to be more proud to be a member of the Zionist sisterhood.
At a time when it seems Israel is dropping friends at an exponential rate it conjures great comfort and pride that two of Australia’s political trailblazers have come out in full force to stand up for the cause they deem just, regardless of the backlash in their wake. That these two stalwarts are women is even more inspiring for us females.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered an outstanding address at the recent Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) held in Abu Dhabi. Echoing sentiments of her address to a packed crowd at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre last November, Ms Gillard was firm and courageous in her analysis of the Middle East. You can watch the full addresshere.
“I am convinced that the key to peace for Israelis and Palestinians is a simple declarative statement by Palestinian leaders – that they accept Israel as a Jewish State. Once that is stipulated, then virtually everything can be successfully negotiated — because Israel’s existential identity is successfully secured.”
Given that this address took place in the UAE, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, Gillard’s conviction is even more commendable.
Similarly, she took the opportunity to confirm what many of us are thinking about Syria and Iran yet the mainstream media refuse to acknowledge. Namely, that the recently negotiated interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is little more than a diplomatic charade with minimal practical implications on the ground. About this Gillard boldly stated;
“I want to propose a corollary to President Reagan’s famous dictum in reaching arms control agreements with the Soviets: Trust but verify.”
“But we can’t trust the Iranians – yet,” she said.
And about Syria Gillard said; “this is the civil war that is breaking the hopes of everyone in the region. A tyrant is butchering his people. He has had no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction to do it.”
It is important to add that this statement came at a time of diplomatic chaos. In a bewildering move the UN came out this week and invited an Iranian delegation to participate in the Geneva negotiations with Syria. It was only after Secretary Kerry threatened to pull out of the talks that have taken months to formalize, that UN Secretary, Ban-Ki Moon, reneged on his invitation. This charade was simply laughable.
The former Labor leader has shown herself to be one of the truest friend’s Israel has on the far side of the ocean. Indeed she was a most worthy prize of the Jerusalem Prize awarded by the ZCV in November last year.
The second bold move came from our Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, whose comments in an exclusive interview with the Time of Israel have set off fireworks around the globe. At the King David Hotel in Jerusalem Ms Bishop told it like it is, sticking it to the many critics who misguidedly proclaim that the settlements are impeding the peace process whilst ignoring the uptick in Palestinian terror and incitement.
Whether one is pro-settlement or definitively anti, the lack of progress in the peace process is about a lot more than the settlements. This is precisely the point that Ms Bishop set out to make.
The Times of Israel writes; “asked whether she agrees or disagrees with the near-universal view that Israeli settlements anywhere beyond the 1967 lines are illegal under international law, she replied: I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal.”
She continued; “I don’t think it’s helpful to prejudge the settlement issue if you’re trying to get a negotiated solution. And by deeming the activity as a war crime, it’s unlikely to engender a negotiated solution.”
Further, Ms Bishop labelled the anti-Israel BDS movement “anti-semitic.”
“It identifies Israel out of all other nations as being worthy of a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign? Hypocritical beyond belief,” she said.
Julie Bishop was unabashed in her assertions. She believes in a two-state solution but like Julia Gillard, she is not simply one to echo prevailing perceptions about settlements which prejudge negotiations and characterize Israel as having breached international law in relation to an issue which is highly complex and far from settled legally.
Unsurprisingly, PLO member, Hanan Ashrawi (who also has a long rap sheet of vile anti-Israel assertions) was quick to contact every international media outlet and alert them of her disapproval. Ashrawi personally denounced Ms Bishop and what she described as a “dangerous shift” in Australian foreign policy and a ”wilful defiance of international consensus” on the settlements issue.
The Herald Sun also quoted former foreign minister and fervent Israel critic, Bob Carr, who said that for Ms Bishop to hesitate over the illegality question “was to show an ignorance of international law”.
“Julie Bishop should speak to [UK Foreign Secretary] William Hague or to the foreign minister of any conservative government in Europe, who will simply repeat what is a commonplace and common sense opinion,” he said.
It goes without saying that FM Julie Bishop’s underlying aim is to encourage both parties to negotiate without pre-determined positions. History has shown time and time again that this is the only way to move towards a negotiated two-state solution. Ms Bishop’s refusal to support UN resolutions that are one-sided or abrogate the need for the Palestinians to make the necessary concessions to achieve a lasting peace for two peoples may not be popular, but will be most constructive in the long run.
Julie(a) x2 have proven themselves to be enduring advocates for Israel and we at the ZFA commend them for their boldness in the face of those who continue to hate.