Labor urges government to voice concerns over Israel annexation plan

In a joint statement, Senator Wong and Mr Marles said such a move would undermine the prospect of a two-state solution, violate international law and risk destabilising Israel’s neighbours.

“We expect the Australian government to join with like-minded countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain in making these concerns clear,” they said.

Labor's Richard Marles and Penny Wong say Israel's potential annexation of land in the West Bank would undermine the prospect of a two-state solution.

Labor’s Richard Marles and Penny Wong say Israel’s potential annexation of land in the West Bank would undermine the prospect of a two-state solution.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“Labor is a strong supporter of the state of Israel – that will never change.

“We share the concern expressed by the Global Jewish Coalition and the Commanders for Israel’s Security – a group of 293 retired Israeli generals, admirals, and leaders from Mossad, Shin Bet, and the police – that unilateral annexation would jeopardise Israel’s security.”

International opposition is growing to the plan, paved by US President Donald Trump’s “vision for peace” statement, with European leaders, the United Nations and Arab countries allied with Israel all denouncing the planned move.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said on Monday the proposal risked destabilising the region at an already volatile moment given the impacts of COVID-19 and would violate the United Nations’ charter.

He said the Morrison government had an obligation to “speak up” in defence of international law as a responsible middle power.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, who has not commented publicly on the issue, recently told her Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, the Australian government would urge all parties to avoid any unilateral actions, including land appropriations, demolitions, and settlement activity.

Government sources told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Senator Payne urged the Israeli’s to refrain from any action that diminished the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution.

Avi Berkowitz, the US special representative for international negotiations, is visiting Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz to discuss possible scenarios.

Mr Gantz, the defence minister, said on Monday any annexation of West Bank territory must be placed on hold until the coronavirus crisis has been contained.

Mr Netanyahu said on Sunday night that applying Israeli law to areas of Judea and Samaria would not set back the cause of peace.

He called on the Palestinians to embrace Mr Trump’s vision for the Middle East.

“I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity, not to waste another century, trying to destroy Israel,” he said in a virtual summit of Christians United for Israel in a video message.

“They should sit down and negotiate in good faith. They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that can bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel is prepared for such negotiations; I am prepared for such negotiations.”

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