In his first address to a Jewish communal organisation since being re-elected recently as Labor Member for Macnamara, Josh Burns explained why the new government decided last week not to sign the US-led statement condemning the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry report on Israel.
While Australia didn’t put its name to the American protest, Australia’s representative to the UNHRC, Amanda Gorely, expressed the government’s “fundamental concerns” about the permanent inquiry into Israel and the “disproportionate scrutiny” of the Jewish State
Speaking to the Zionism Victoria executive meeting on Tuesday night at Beth Weizmann, Burns reflected, “Do I think there is any substantive difference between us and the Americans? Absolutely not. Would I have been happy for Australia to sign the American statement? Yes I would.”
However, he noted that “Australia wanted to project that we have our own voice as part of international affairs, not just in the Middle East but on matters of foreign policy.
“We have different considerations, we have a different region to the US, we have different nuances that we need to express.”
But he stressed, “On the substantive matters at play, as a country, we acknowledge that Israel should not be singled out in the way in which it has by the Human Rights Council, we acknowledge the disproportionate nature of the Human Rights Council’s agenda and we acknowledge that the investigations being done recently don’t reflect what we believe to be fair and proper process, which is why we expressed concern in them.”
Responding to a question from Zionism Victoria president Yossi Goldfarb about the ALP’s stance on recognition of Palestine, Burns emphasised that the policy included in the party platform is not binding, and merely requests that a Labor government consider it.