Monday, January 16, 2017

Australia distances itself from Paris peace conference concluding statement

From the ABC (Australia), 16 Jan 2017:

Australia has distanced itself from the concluding statement of the Middle East Peace conference in Paris...

...A spokesperson for the office of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the ABC that
"while the Australian Government was represented at the Paris conference, this does not mean we agree with every element of the final statement".
"The most important priority must be a resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians...."
Australia was the only country to speak out publicly against the US-backed security council resolution on settlements last month, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling it "one sided" and "deeply unsettling".

The Foreign Minister's office says Australia does not agree with every element of the final statement. (ABC News: Ross Nerdal)

Washington effectively cleared the way for the resolution, which demanded an end to Israeli settlement building, prompting Israeli Government officials to direct harsh attacks against US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ms Bishop noted at the time that Australia was not currently a member of the Security Council and was not eligible to vote on the resolution, but indicated the Federal Government did not support the contentious move.

The US position was seen as a parting shot at policy by US President Barack Obama, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and who has made settlements a major target of peace efforts that have proven ultimately futile.

In response, Mr Netanyahu said Israel did not need to be lectured to by foreign leaders and that he looked forward to working with US President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to pursue more pro-Israeli policies.

"We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter on December 29.

Britain has 'reservations' about conference outcome
Britain said on Sunday it had reservations about the outcome of the conference in Paris, saying it risked "hardening positions".
"We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them — indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis and which is taking place just days before the transition to a new American president, when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement," a British Foreign Office statement said.
"There are risks therefore that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace."

Britain had observer status at the conference. It did not back the final communique.
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