LONDON: The de facto Palestinian ambassador to Australia has said Canberra should recognize Palestine as a state.
Izzat Abdulhadi, who heads the Palestinian delegation in Australia, said ahead of the Australian Labor Party’s national conference in Brisbane in August that there is “huge support” from the party’s grassroots for Palestinian statehood, and the country has a moral duty “because of Australian fair go principles and because Australia is a good international citizen.”
He added that the “brutal” recent Israeli operation in a refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Jenin made the need for statehood all the more important, and that unless action is taken soon by the international community, “we will not be left with any land to establish our own state.”
Labor previously backed resolutions to support “the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognised borders,” and to call “on the next Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state.”
But since entering office in 2022, little progress has been made toward recognition or a timeframe for doing so.
Abdulhadi told The Guardian: “I hope that (Foreign Minister) Penny Wong in particular and (Prime Minister) Anthony Albanese have the leadership to actually support and endorse the recognition of Palestine in this term.”
Wong has previously called Israeli settlements in the West Bank “an obstacle to peace.” But Abdulhadi said “condemnation is not enough at all,” citing the fact that the Israeli government has handed control of settlement approvals to far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has called for the erasure of the Palestinian town of Huwara and said there is “no such thing as a Palestinian people.”
On Wednesday, an Israel Defense Forces operation in Jenin came to a close, leaving a number of people dead, thousands displaced and key infrastructure in ruins.
Abdulhadi told The Guardian: “Australia should condemn, in the strongest terms, this brutal assault and collective punishment against the Palestinian people.
“Australia recognizing the state of Palestine would send a powerful message that Australia does not condone Israel’s gross human rights violations.”
Tim Watts, Australia’s assistant foreign minister, told Sky News on Wednesday that Canberra is “deeply concerned by the escalating violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, including in Jenin.
“It’s on all parties to come together to break this cycle of violence and to work together to create the conditions for peace.”
Last October, Israel summoned Australia’s ambassador over the decision by Albanese to reverse the move made by his predecessor Scott Morrison to recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital.
In May, Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Amir Maimon warned the Albanese government not to recognize Palestine as a state before a peace agreement is in place, adding: “Israel’s position is that the final status of the (Palestinian) territories should be decided by the two parties involved.”