Australia stands by Israel after UN condemns illegal settlements

The Australian government is keen to show how close it is with Israel's government.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop was quick to reiterate the Australian government’s firm support for Israel and distance it from the December 24 vote on UN Security Council resolution 2334 reaffirming the illegality of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories.

The resolution was passed by the Security Council, with the United States abstaining rather than vetoing the vote, as it has traditionally done with resolutions that have criticised Israel.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who participated in the recent Australia-UK-Israel Leadership Dialogue trip to Israel, followed this up with his suggestion that Australia’s embassy be relocated to Jerusalem. The historic city has been at the heart of a decades-long dispute between Israel and Palestine, with both claiming it as its capital.

Bishop has said that moving the embassy from where it is in Tel Aviv is not on the government’s agenda

It seems Abbott’s primary motivation for suggesting the move was to be seen as concurring with the incoming Donald Trump administration, which has floated moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. Following the vote, Trump expressed his strong opposition to the UN Security Council resolution and support for Israel.

Abbott also launched an attack on the Palestinian Authority, despite only participating in a solitary, token meeting with Palestinian representatives during his recent trip.

After meeting with Palestinian Authority PM Rami Hamdallah, Abbott refused to accept Hamdallah’s statement that the PA acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, and instead talked up the PA’s supposed glorification of suicide bombers, equating the very limited financial support it provides to Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel and their families with funding terrorism.

The Australia-UK-Israel Leadership Dialogue trip was attended by a number of other Australian politicians, including Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten and shadow minister for immigration Richard Marles.

For all the vitriol and threats coming out of Israel following the vote on Resolution 2334 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried it as anti-Semitic and vowed to “re-examine” Israel’s participation in various UN bodies – it is clear that Israel continues to have many friends and is unlikely to face meaningful governmental actions to its illegal settlements.

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