Australia Fixates on the Jewish State While Ignoring Iranian Wrongdoing

Earlier this month, Canberra announced that it will officially refer to the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as “occupied Palestinian territory,” and, moreover, that it deems it “illegal” for Jews to live in the West Bank. In October of last year, the Australian government also reversed its predecessor’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Oved Lobel comments:

Apart from its criticism of Israel, the government says little about other issues and countries in the Middle East. There’s the slight exception of Iran, but even there Australia’s response falls short. [Foreign Minister Penny] Wong used Australia’s Magnitsky powers to impose thematic (human rights) sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities—long after the U.S., Canada, the UK, and the EU had begun doing so—in December 2022, in February this year, and again in March.

It also took Australia substantially longer than most of its allies to condemn Iran or impose sanctions against it for supplying drones and other weapons to Russia for its attack on Ukraine. Australia’s government has not criticized any action by Iran since the foreign minister condemned the May 19 execution of Majid Kazemi, Saeed Yaqoubi, and Saleh Mirhashemi. Iran has reportedly hanged at least 423 people since the start of 2023 and its “morality police” have returned to arresting women for not wearing their hijabs “properly.”

The government has had little to say about events in the Middle East outside of Israel and Iran even though 2022–23 has seen overwhelming regional shifts. In addition, an Australian citizen, Robert Pether, remains unjustly jailed in Iraq, something that ought to warrant a statement.

Meanwhile, pressure has been maintained on Israel despite the Palestinian leadership’s longstanding refusal to accept two-state peace offers or, in recent years, even to engage in negotiations on the subject.

Read more at Strategist

More about: Australia, Human Rights, Iran, War in Ukraine

 

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority