Anthony Albanese defends Penny Wong’s Palestine call, insisting it’s part of a solution in the Middle East

Peta Rasdien and Katina CurtisThe West Australian
The Opposition laid into Penny Wong after she claimed Palestinian statehood was the key to ending conflict in the Middle East.
Camera IconThe Opposition laid into Penny Wong after she claimed Palestinian statehood was the key to ending conflict in the Middle East. Credit: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Anthony Albanese insists his Government’s edging towards recognising a Palestinian state is consistent with Australia’s long-held position on a two-state solution in the Middle East, after the Opposition said recognition would be “a win for the terrorists”.

The Prime Minister repeatedly said on Wednesday that nothing had changed in Australia’s stance.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong stopped short of committing Australia to recognising a Palestinian state during a speech on Tuesday night but said a secure and prosperous future for Israelis and Palestinians would only come with a two-state solution.

She cited British Foreign Minister David Cameron’s comments that recognising Palestine statehood could be an “irreversible” step towards the two-state solution.

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But shadow foreign minister Simon Birmingham said a two-state solution could only be possible with security and confidence that the right of each party to exist would be respected by the other.

However, the October 7 slaughter of Israelis by Hamas terrorists had shattered any sense of security and was an attack on Israel’s right to exist.

“It is downright dangerous to reward such barbaric conduct with a fast track to recognition of statehood,” Senator Birmingham said.

“To give the greatest chance for a sustainable ceasefire, that leads to prospects for stability and security, Labor should instead be applying maximum pressure on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all hostages and surrender all terrorist capabilities.”

Liberal frontbencher Jane Hume also went on the attack over Senator Wong’s comments, telling Sunrise: “It certainly is a significant shift away from the bipartisan position that we have always taken with foreign policy and particularly towards Israel.

“This is putting statehood ahead of security and it will be seen as a win for the terrorists.

“The idea that we would reward this kind of behaviour by people offering them statehood, I think, is a significant blow to Jewish Australians who should be rightly concerned with this change in stance.”

Mr Albanese said there was no change in position.

“We have consistently said that we need a long-term political solution in the Middle East, which is the right of Israel to continue to exist within secure borders,” he said.

“A way of ... that security being enhanced is obviously it being recognised by other states in the region.

“In order for that to happen, there needs to be as well a two-state solution, justice for Palestinians in a way that is secure for Palestinians and secure for Israelis.”

Mr Albanese said it was very clear that Hamas should not have any role in a future Palestinian state because it was a terrorist organisation and not a legitimate party.

Senator Wong made the controversial comments during a speech at an ANU National Security College conference saying those who claimed recognition was rewarding an enemy were wrong.

“The simple truth is that a secure and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians will only come with a two-state solution,” she said.

“Recognising a Palestinian state — one that can only exist side by side with a secure Israel — doesn’t just offer the Palestinian people an opportunity to realise their aspirations.

“It also strengthens the forces for peace and undermines extremism. It undermines Hamas, Iran and Iran’s other destructive proxies in the region.”

Senator Wong said Israel’s ongoing security depended on a two-state solution because that was the key to it being recognised by the countries of its region, such as Saudi Arabia.

She also said that there was clearly no role for Hamas in a Palestinian state because it was “a terrorist organisation which has the explicit intent of the destruction of the state of Israel and the Jewish people”.

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