AUSTRALIA has switched its position to vote against Israel on two resolutions at the United Nations, ending the Howard government’s unswerving alignment with the United States and raising concern from the Jewish community.
The move also signals to the incoming Obama administration that the Rudd Government plans to take a different approach to the Howard government on the international stage.
In the weekend vote in New York, Australia supported a resolution calling on Israel to stop establishing settlements in the Palestinian territories and a resolution calling for the Geneva Conventions to apply in the Palestinian territories.
The resolutions on the Middle East peace process are held annually and the Howard government had backed both from 1996 to 2002 but in 2003 began to vote against or abstain. It was a move that aligned Australia with only the US, Israel, the US Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Micronesia and put the country at odds with Britain, Canada, New Zealand and France.
Australian officials told the UN the Government had changed its position because it supported a two-state resolution of the conflict to deliver a secure Israel living beside a viable Palestinian state and that Australia believed both sides should abide by their obligations under the Road Map for Peace.