From: Sid Shniad
France plans 'yes' vote on Palestinian statehood at UNGeneral Assembly
*Vancouver Sun November 27, 2012
France plans 'yes' vote on Palestinian statehood at UN General Assembly *By
Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press*
PARIS - France announced Tuesday that it plans to vote in favour of
recognizing a Palestinian state at the U.N. General Assembly this week.
With the announcement, France becomes the first major European country to
come out in favour, dealing a setback to Israel. The timing of the
announcement appears aimed at swaying other European nations.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament that France has long
supported Palestinian ambitions for statehood and "will respond 'Yes'" when
the issue comes up for a vote "out of a concern for coherency."
The Palestinians say the assembly is likely to vote Thursday on a resolution
raising their status at the U.N. from an observer to a nonmember observer
state, a move they believe is an important step toward a two-state solution
with Israel. A Palestinian state would still not be a full General Assembly
Unlike the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly and
the resolution is virtually certain of approval. But such a vote by France -
a permanent council member - could weigh on decisions in other European
Europe is divided over the issue. Switzerland and Portugal have said they
will vote for the measure, but Germany is among the countries that have
opposed the bid. Britain's position remains unclear.
Palestinians say they are doing this out of frustration over the four-year
deadlock in peace efforts. They believe an endorsement of their state will
bolster their negotiating position.
Israel strongly opposes the bid, accusing the Palestinians of trying to
bypass negotiations. The resolution would endorse a Palestinian state in the
West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel
in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel opposes a pullback to the 1967 lines.
As French lawmakers applauded Tuesday- many of them members or allies of the
Socialist-led government - Fabius cautioned against raising Palestinian
hopes too high.
"But, but, but, but, but - but at the same time, madame and monsieur
lawmakers, we must show in this case a lot of lucidity," he said.
"On the one hand, because the text is currently being discussed, and I
myself had (Palestinian) President Mahmoud Abbas on the phone yesterday
morning," he said. "On the other hand, because - let's not hide from this -
that this question will be asked at a very delicate moment."
He went on to note the "fragile cease-fire" after the recent deadly fighting
between Hamas and Israel, the Israeli election in January, and the upcoming
"change in composition of the American administration" - with the United
States seen by many as perhaps the most pivotal player in the region.
"In any case, it's only through negotiations - that we ask for without
conditions and immediately between the two sides - that we will be able to
reach the realization of a Palestinian state," Fabius said.
* * *
Sydney Morning Herald November 28, 2012
* Humiliating defeat forces Gillard to back down over Palestinian vote
*Israel's policy of allowing continuing expansion of Israeli settlements was
sabotaging peace and Israel's friends had to send it a message - former
prime minister Bob Hawke*
*Peter Hartcher *
THE Prime Minister was braced for a frontal assault from the Opposition
about her past, but she didn't expect the spontaneous revolt from her own
party over her support for Israel.
Julia Gillard relied on her authority as Prime Minister when she decided on
Monday that Australia would vote in support of Israel in a forthcoming
ballot in the United Nations, but her authority proved inadequate. Gillard
overruled the strong advice of her Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, and
the overwhelming opinion of her cabinet to insist on her position. This set
off a firestorm.
The uprising was led by Bob Carr. ''He was on the ring-a-round,''
canvassing support for his position, said a factional convener. ''I've never
seen a Cabinet minister stand up to a prime minister like that.'' But after
being advised that she was about to face a full Caucus revolt on the matter
on Tuesday, Gillard capitulated. Importantly, the bedrock support base for
Gillard in the Caucus, the Right faction, split.
While the Victorian bloc of the Right wanted to bind all the faction's votes
nationally in support of the Prime Minister, the NSW group refused.
It was a rare and humiliating backdown for a prime minister.
And it was an important marker in Australian political sentiment about the
impassioned dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.
Gillard had insisted that Australia vote against giving Palestine observer
status in the UN General Assembly; her party forced her to change
Australia's position to abstaining instead.
Only seven countries are expected to vote against the move to upgrade
Palestinian recognition - Israel, the US, Canada, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau
and the Marshall Islands. If Gillard had prevailed, Australia would have
been the eighth.
Ten ministers representing both Labor factions spoke against the Prime
Minister's stated position in a long Cabinet debate; Tony Burke, Chris
Bowen, Bob Carr, Simon Crean, Craig Emerson, Martin Ferguson, and Peter
Garrett from the Right and Anthony Albanese, Mark Butler and Greg Combet
from the Left.
Only two spoke in support of Gillard's position; Stephen Conroy and Bill
Shorten, both from the Right.
In the debate, it was pointed out that one of Labor's staunchest friends of
Israel, the former prime minister Bob Hawke, had been on the phone urging
ministers to cast Australia's vote as an abstention.
Israel's policy of allowing continuing expansion of Israeli settlements on
was sabotaging peace, Hawke argued, and Israel's friends had to send it a
After Bob Carr got his way, he was the first to go public in defence of his
leader. It was not a humiliation but a textbook case of a leader heeding the
party, said Carr. Which is one way of putting it.
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