Demonstrators hold a large Palestinian flag during a rally in Rafah
Australian Parliamentary Friends of Palestine group says international recognition is the only way to end deadlock and bring peace to Middle East
Australia must recognise Palestine as a separate state to help facilitate international peace, a Labor MP said.
Maria Vamvakinou tabled a motion in parliament on Monday calling for the government to support Palestine, in response to the UN international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, which was on Saturday.
“On this day, we need to acknowledge and understand that the prospects for a two-state solution are increasingly dissipating and we are left with very few options,” Vamvakinou said in tabling the report.
“We are, potentially, embarking on a road map that leads to nowhere. Such a prospect will have horrendous implications not only for the Palestinians and the Israelis, but for the international community. Essentially there will be no peace for any of us.”
Vamvakinou, who co-convenes the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Palestine group, said international recognition was the only way to end the deadlock.
“Australia and indeed this parliament must now recognise the state of Palestine and Australia must vote yes at the UN for Palestinian statehood,” she said.
The motion had bipartisan support, with Vamvakinou’s co-covenor the Liberal MP Craig Laundy, speaking for the motion.
“The people of Palestine, for the last almost 60 years, haven’t had a fair go,” he said. “Imagine if you will, coming home this afternoon to your home, going to put your key in the door and it didn’t fit.
“You knock on the door. Someone you don’t know opens the door and they’re in your home. That’s what happened here, that’s what happened all those years ago. And a people have been displaced and fighting for an identity ever since.”
He accused lobbyists of hijacking the debate. “The things we discuss in this chamber should not be influenced by the lobby. They should be influenced by what’s right.”
Laundy told Guardian Australia that he is using his position as co-chair of the friendship group to “continue the discussion with my colleagues and try to progress the debate towards a meaningful, two-state solution”.
A number of countries – most recently, Sweden – have formally recognised the state of Palestine in a diplomatic push to get UN backing for a resolution on ending some Israeli settlements.
Three state branches of the Labor party – New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland – have adopted positions recognising Palestine, a move the head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, calls encouraging. “We need international support … We’re not asking for the moon,” Abdulhadi told Guardian Australia.
He said he has regular dialogue with the government over the issue. “We’d like to have a Palestinian state based on negotiation [with Israel] … but it is impossible now,” he said.
Guardian Australia contacted the Israeli embassy for comment.
Relations between Australia and the Palestinian delegation have been strained for more than a year, since Australia softened its stance on Israeli settlements.
“This shift reflected the government’s concern that Middle East resolutions should be balanced,” the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said in November 2013.
“The government will not support resolutions which are one-sided and which prejudge the outcome of final-status negotiations between the two sides.”
Supporters of Australia’s policy shift see it as vital for a more fair and frank discussion on the vexed Israeli-Palestinian issue within the UN, which they say is biased towards Palestinians.