Tony Abbott


It’s almost enough to restore your faith in the political process! Independent Senator Nick Xenophon slams the Australian government over its semantic shenanigans – re-categorising the ‘Occupied Territories’ in Palestine as ‘Disputed Territories’.

Certainly Australia’s record of support for Palestine has never been much better than dismal, but under the Abbott government it has reached new lows!

It is a shame that it takes an independent senator to tell the truth in Parliament. The major parties wouldn’t dare speak the truth if it meant offending the Zionist lobby.

I guess that’s no basis for a restoration of faith in our system but it does remind me that an inspired individual can still rise above the system and that gives me hope. 🙂

Father Dave

Nick Xenophon

Nick Xenophon


Xenophon Smashes Brandis-Abbott Spin On Occupied Palestine

Brandis digs himself a hole on Israel, so Abbott hands him a shovel. Chris Graham reports on the ensuing stunning rebuke by Nick Xenophon.

Independent federal Senator Nick Xenophon has delivered a comprehensive – and at times stunning – dismantling of the Abbott Government’s apparent decision to no longer refer to areas of Palestine as “occupied” by Israel, describing the Commonwealth’s actions as “factually untrue, legally ignorant and most unhelpful”.

Senator Xenophon, an independent from South Australia, delivered the speech to the federal Senate yesterday evening. It followed Attorney General George Brandis ‘freestyling’ during a Senate Estimates hearing on June 5 over disputed territories in the Middle East.

Brandis’ latest brain snap was sparked by a late night question from Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, to the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Varghese: “Why did the Australian ambassador to Israel attend a meeting in occupied East Jerusalem with the Israeli minister for housing and construction, the same minister who is forecasting a 50 per cent increase in settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the next five years?”

Varghese never got to answer. Brandis interrupted him and decided, on the fly, to single-handedly rewrite Australian Government policy on Israel-Palestine.

“The Australian government does not refer to East Jerusalem by the descriptor ‘occupied East Jerusalem’. We speak of East Jerusalem,” Brandis replied.

The following morning, Brandis poured fuel on a growing fire by reading from a written statement: “The description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied …’ is freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott tried to dig his party out of the hole, referring Brandis’ comments as a “terminological clarification”, but in the process introducing the phrase “disputed territories”.

The ‘policy on the fly’ approach to Middle East relations, not surprisingly, sparked widespread outrage, with Arab threats of sanctions worth $2 billion against Australia’s live cattle trade, and more internal party rumblings at yet another stuff up from senior Liberals.

Yesterday evening, Xenophon set the record straight with a point-by-point decimation of Abbott’s and Brandis’ and claims, which he described as “false and actually most unhelpful to the process of achieving a lasting peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict”.

“According to the 1949 Geneva conventions and the 1907 Hague regulations, territory is considered occupied when it comes under the actual authority of the invading military.

“There are certain objective tests.

“One – has the occupying power substituted its own authority for that of the occupied authorities? Yes. It is a matter of fact that Israel’s authority prevails in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“Two – Have the enemy forces been defeated, regardless of whether sporadic local resistance continues? Yes. It is a matter of fact that Israel defeated its military adversaries in the June 1967 war.

“Three – Does the occupying power have a sufficient force present to make its authority felt? Yes. It is a fact that Israel has sufficient force to make its authority felt.

“Four – Has an administration been established over the territory? Yes. It is a fact — a poignant fact — that even the Palestinian leaders who wish to enter or leave the occupied Palestinian territories cannot do so without permission from Israel. Even the Palestinian president cannot go to the United Nations in New York, or indeed to anywhere else in the world, without permission from Israel.

“Five – Has the occupying power issued and enforced directions to the civilian population? Yes. It is a fact that Israel has issued and enforced such directions.

“Indeed, Israel’s highest court — the High Court of Justice — stated in paragraph 23 of its verdict in the case of Beit Sourik Village Council v The Government of Israel on 30 June 2004 that ‘Israel holds the area in belligerent occupation’.

“I concede that here the word ‘occupied’ is ‘freighted with implications’, but to say they are pejorative is factually untrue and legally ignorant.”

Senator Xenophon also pointed to a landmark opinion handed down by the International Court of Justice in 2004 around the illegal establishment of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, and the construction of a wall by Israel to separate it from parts of Palestine, and to regulate the movements of Palestinians.

That judgment repeatedly refers to ‘occupied’ territory in East Jerusalem.

“Australia is quite happy to accept the wisdom of the International Court of Justice when it comes to whales,” Xenophon said, “but not, it seems, the Palestinians.”

“We already know, thanks to the so-called Palestine Papers — which are the biggest leak of secret documents in the history of the Middle East conflict — that a solution is already available.

“The Palestinian negotiating team in 2008 offered a formula where Israel would annex 1.9 per cent of the West Bank in the context of a land swap, allowing Israel to retain within its borders 63 per cent of the illegal settler population.

“We also know, according to the same leaks, that Israel’s negotiating team turned down this offer.

“Australia, by adopting these rejectionist statements, has given comfort to the extremists and has weakened the position of the moderate and reasonable Israelis and Palestinians.

“We should instead encourage our great friend Israel to accept the generous offer made in 2008 so that we can have a real, lasting and durable peace in the Middle East.

“The statement made by the Australian government on 5 June this year is not only wrong; it is factually untrue, legally ignorant and most unhelpful.”

For his part, Brandis reportedly blamed the ‘misunderstanding’ on “journalist-led confusion of an innocuous statement”.


It is extraordinary, as an Australian, to watch the speed at which our new government is undermining whatever respectability this country had left in the Arab world through expressions of unconditional love for the State of Israel. More extraordinary still is the fact that Mr Abbott has a competitor, determined to outdo him in his Zionism – namely, his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper.

Harper’s recent pledge to the Knesset – that his government’s support for Israel was of Biblical proportions – “through fire and water” – did not go unnoticed by the Canadian public, as seen in the telling piece of Satire published in the Canadian blog, The Beaverton, last week, entitled “Israeli Prime Minister Stephen Harper returns after long visit in Canada”.

Abbott’s Zionism seems to have attracted less attention in Oz. This may simply be because most Australians are still too transfixed by the new PM’s brutal treatment of refugees to notice any other acts of inhumanity.

Father Dave

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The Israel-lovers club of Canada and Australia: White, Conservative and Christian

By Chemi Shalev

After hearing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s promise the Knesset this week that his government would support Israel “though fire and water,” one could excuse Israeli lawmakers for thinking that they had died and gone to hasbara heaven.

And after seeing Benjamin Netanyahu enthusiastically nodding at Harper’s assertion that singling out Israel for criticism was the same as anti-Semitism, one might easily imagine the prime minister imploring God to seriously consider “castling” the current residents of the White House in Washington and Langevin Block in Ottawa, at least for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s second term.

And coming straight on the heels of Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s even more extraordinary proclamation in Jerusalem last week on the legality of Jewish settlements in the territories, Harper’s visit to Israel took on the airs of what the Hassidim call “mashiachzeit”: this is the way the world will look after the Messiah arrives.

But even for Israelis less religiously inclined, these back-to-back expressions of uninhibited political support were welcome rays of sunshine amidst the gathering clouds and proliferating forecasts of impending torrents of condemnation, isolation and boycott. Things can’t be that bad, many Israelis told themselves, if fine, upstanding countries such as Canada and Australia were willing to unabashedly stand up against the otherwise shrill winds of Western public opinion.

Indeed, under their respective conservative governments, both Canada and Australia have gone above and beyond the traditional parameters of support for Israel, much to the dismay of its detractors among commentators and public opinion in both countries and in the Arab world at large. Harper has dramatically broken with the mildly supportive but largely detached Israeli policies of his predecessors, while Australia’s Tony Abbott has rapidly reinstated John Howard’s effusive pro-Israel policies after three years of realignment efforts carried out by the recently ousted Australian Labor Party.

Although the prim and proper Harper and the bold and brash Abbott have been described as polar opposites on a personal level, their shared love for Israel stems from nearly identical ideological roots. Both are deeply-religious social conservatives and proud nationalists who view themselves as serving on the front lines of a Western, Judeo-Christian civilization that is under threat: their support for Israel is not just a matter of political expediency, if that, but of firmly held convictions and belief.

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