Jerusalem24– The newly-elected Australian government led by left-wing Prime Minister Anthony Albenese has refused to sign up to a US-led statement concerning Israel – as previous governments have – and chose instead to raise “deep concerns about human rights abuses and lack of progress towards a just and enduring two-state solution.”
The US, along with 21 other signatories, delivered a statement on Monday to the United Nations Human Rights Council condemning the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel as a “demonstration of long-standing, disproportionate attention given to Israel in the Council.”
The UN Commission of Inquiry presented its first report to the Council on the same day, in which it found Israel had “no intention of ending the occupation.”
Australian governments have typically followed a long tradition of supporting Israel. Australia’s previous Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, rejected Amnesty International’s report on Israeli apartheid in February this year by stating, “No country is perfect.”
While the Australian government said it agreed with the US argument that the UN Human Rights Council brings “disproportionate scrutiny to Israel”, it did not echo its ally in explicitly calling to end its ongoing inquiry into Israeli violations.
“Australia’s guiding principle will be advancing the cause for peace,” said Australia’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Amanda Gorely, in a statement to the council on Tuesday. “Viewing any conflict from one perspective will not achieve that goal.”
The independent inquiry’s mandate is to “investigate, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law,” and provide annual reports.
Its first report also states the continued occupation by Israel of Palestinian territory and discrimination against Palestinians are the key root causes of the recurrent tensions, instability, and protraction of conflict in the region.
Australia’s foreign minister Gareth Evans said the new government’s decision not to join the 22 countries in signing on to the US statement may signal a “decent, principled” approach to the Middle East.