Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Bob Carr have gone underground since Carr announced on 8 August at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney that Rudd personally as well as the Labor Party had adopted as policy that Jews had no right to legally live 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.
Attempts to elicit whether Rudd personally and the Labor Party had adopted this policy prior to Carr's announcement have ended in total confusion.
Labor's candidate for the seat of Stirling Dan Caddy, received no answers from Carr when he asked those pertinent questions.
An embarrassed Caddy wrote to the constituent seeking such information:
I have received advice from our (Foreign) Minister's office which I have included below. I appreciate that it does not specifically address the questions you have posed, but I hope it clearly articulates what the position is.
Caddy's response was however seriously undermined when sitting Labor Member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby, spoke out a few days later:
There's a narrow view in the Department of Foreign Affairs, in their legal section, that the settlements are illegal. It's not the view of the government as I understand it.
He [Carr] has accepted their [the legal department's] view. The Prime Minister hasn't accepted that view as far as I understand it.
I disagree with the Foreign Minister's interpretation of this. I was disappointed; of course I was disappointed.
Rudd could clear up this apparent confusion very easily by issuing a one sentence press release affirming or denying that the Lakemba Mosque Declaration represents his personal view and Labor Party policy.
However Rudd has remained silent in the face of angry protests lodged by peak Jewish organisations and the Opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs - Julie Bishop.
One can only conclude in the face of such Prime Ministerial silence that Carr's Lakemba Mosque Declaration was shoddy policy made on the run with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Prime Minister in an attempt to secure the votes of the Moslem community in the elections to be held on 7 September.
The Moslem vote for the Labor Party is by no means assured following another hastily cobbled together policy announced by Rudd in July regarding asylum seekers - making it clear newcomers would no longer be re-settled in Australia under any circumstances - but would be transferred to Papua New Guinea for processing and re-settlement.
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