Australian PM reiterates support for two-state solution

In newspaper column ahead of Netanyahu visit, PM Turnbull expresses support for directly negotiated two-state solution.

Ben Ariel ,

Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull

Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, reiterated his country’s support for the two-state solution, while rebuking critics of Israel’s construction in Judea and Samaria.

In a column for The Australian newspaper published on Wednesday, ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Australia, Turnbull wrote that Australia recognized that Israel and the Palestinian Arabs “need to come to a settlement and we support a directly negotiated two-state solution so that Palestinians will have their own state and the people of Israel can be secure within agreed borders.”

At the same time, he was critical of unnamed critics who viewed Israel “exclusively through the lens of its conflict with the Palestinians”.

“They demand that the government take the side of those in the international community who seek to chastise Israel – and it alone – for the continuing failure of the peace process,” wrote Turnbull, who was quoted by The Guardian.

“In a speech to the UN General Assembly in 2015, Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out that in the preceding 12 months, the General Assembly had adopted 20 resolutions critical of Israel, compared to just one in response to the war in Syria, which has resulted in more than 250,000 killed and millions driven from their homes,” he pointed out.

Turnbull stressed that his government would “not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the UN Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

Last week, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said her country supports a “two-state solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict, but added that the world should recognize a “one-state solution” if the two sides agree to that.

“If they can come up with another solution that they were prepared to live with that ensured that the Israelis and the Palestinians could live side by side, live together behind internationally recognized boundaries then of course the world should support that,” Bishop said, adding, “What we need is for the Palestinians to recognize that the state of Israel exists and will continue to exist.”

The comments follow U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments on Wednesday at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which he would not commit to the two-state solution as the only way to solve the conflict.

Turnbull later reaffirmed Australia's support for a two state-solution.

“Our position has not changed there should be a two state solution negotiated with Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Turnbull said, while calling for a “two-state solution that will secure the interest and the security of both peoples.”

In December, after the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 which condemned Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, Bishop said her country would not have voted for the Israel resolution had it been a member of the Security Council.

During his visit to Australia, Netanyahu will meet Turnbull as well as Israeli and Australian business people. Afterwards, he will attend a large event with Australian Jewish community leaders at the Great Synagogue in Sydney.