Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister - Senator Bob Carr - has made the long running Jewish-Arab conflict an issue in the forthcoming elections on 7 September.
Speaking at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney on 8 August at celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan - Carr reportedly committed the Labor Government to support the claim that Jewshave no legal rightto settle in the West Bank:
I've been to Ramallah, I've spoken to the Palestinian leadership, and we support their aspirations to have a Palestinian state in the context of a Middle East of peace. And that means respect for the right of Israel to exist. But we want that Palestinian state to exist, in the context of a peace in the Middle East, and that's why we say, unequivocally, all settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease. That is the position, of Kevin Rudd, the position of the Federal Labor Government, and we don't make apologies for it.
Senator Carr had been far less definitive when issuing a press release on 10 April 2012 in which he stated:
The Australian Government has consistently called on both sides to show restraint and comply with their obligations under the Quartet's Roadmap for Peace and other previous agreements. This includes settlements because it is counter-productive to the peace process.
Nomention of "illegality" then - only a view that settlements were counterproductive to the peace process.
Carr was to have a sea-change in opinionjustnine months later.
On 18 January 2013 Senator Carr, the Australian Minister for Defence – Stephen Smith- and the UK Foreign and Defence Secretaries, William Hague and Philip Hammond, met in Perth for the fifth Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN) and issued a communique which stated:
All settlements are illegal under international law and settlement activity undermines prospects for peace.
This communique contradicted legal opinion which supported Jewish settlement being legal in international law under article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
This opinion has been expressedby such distinguished jurists as Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, former US Secretary of State Eugene Rostow and was the considered opinion of the Levy Report issued in July 2012.
Amazingly these specific provisions of the Mandate and the UN Charter do not even rate a mention in the latest statement issued by Carrseeking to justify the legal basis for such Labor Party policyannounced at the Lakemba mosque.
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