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Israel-Palestine: Turnbull government reiterates support for two-state solution – The Guardian

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Julie Bishop and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Bishop says Australia is consistent on wanting a two-state solution. Photograph: GPO/Getty Images

The Turnbull government has reiterated its support for a two-state solution after Donald Trump dumped Americas 20-year commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of a permanent Middle East peace agreement.

In a statement to Guardian Australia on Thursday, the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said Australias position had been consistent on a two-state solution.

We encourage both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate an outcome that would see Israelis and Palestinians living side by side, within internationally recognised borders, in a peaceful and stable environment, she said.

In later comments to Sky News, Bishop stood by Australias support for the two-state solution but she suggested that support might shift in the future if Israel and Palestine favoured another means of resolving the conflict.

She said Trump had merely been pointing to the necessity for both parties to agree on the way forward. The two sides need to sit down and negotiate a resolution it cant be imposed from outside.

Bishop said if the parties came up with another solution that they were prepared to live with, that ensured the Israelis and Palestinians could live side by side, together, between internationally recognised boundaries, then of course the world should support that.

When it was pointed out to Bishop that the Palestinians did not actually favour a one-state solution, she said: What we need is for the Palestinians to recognise that the state of Israel exists and will continue to exist.

Pressed on whether her remarks about another potential means of resolution to Middle East peace were consistent with her avowed support for a two-state solution, Bishop said Australia prefers a two-state solution and that was a matter of bipartisan policy.

The shadow foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, said Labors support for the two-state solution remained unchanged but she said Labor would speak out against policies that were harmful to Middle East peace.

This week, the former prime minister Bob Hawke and two former Labor foreign ministers, Gareth Evans and Bob Carr, argued Australia needs to commit to the diplomatic recognition of Palestine because aggressive conduct by Israel has jeopardised the peace process.

The calls put pressure on the Labor leadership before a planned visit to Australia next week by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The ALP national conference in July 2015 passed the strongest resolution yet seen at the national level on the recognition of Palestine a resolution that was strongly opposed by members of the Victorian right faction, which is Bill Shortens power bloc.

The form of words adopted by the conference says if there is no progress in the next round of the peace process, a future Labor government will discuss joining like-minded nations who have already recognised Palestine and announcing the conditions and timelines for the Australian recognition of a Palestinian state, with the objective of contributing to peace and security in the Middle East.

While the resolution clearly references Labor being in government when it would provide recognition for Palestinian statehood, a number of current Labor parliamentarians believe the no progress threshold has already been reached some assert a majority of the caucus holds this view.

Wong tried to walk a middle course on Thursday. She noted Bob Hawke was a longstanding friend of Israel. She said the position held by Hawke, Carr and Evans reflects the concern that not only members of the Labor party have, but members of the broader community about this issue.

As the alternative government, we will continue to advocate for a two-state solution and that will involve at times speaking out against policies that we believe are harmful to that solution, Wong told the ABC.

And you saw a recent example of that when the Knesset passed retrospective legislation legalising settlements that are unlawful on Palestinian lands in the West Bank. We said we oppose that, we thought that was harmful to the outcome that would benefit both Israel and the Palestinians.

Wong said Labor would tell the Israeli prime minister during his visit that there are strong bilateral relationships between our two nations, very warm people-to-people links but we wont resile from the position Labor has held for many years and that is the only viable path to peace and security is a two-state solution.

Asked whether Labor would urge the Israeli government to stop building settlements, Wong said: I wont go into what may be said in meetings but we have said publicly, Bill Shorten said, they are unhelpful to the peace process and thats the position Labor has articulated.

Excerpt from:
Israel-Palestine: Turnbull government reiterates support for two-state solution – The Guardian

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