Ordinarily we'd dismiss Labor's internal fight over recognition of Palestine and an upcoming UN vote on observer status. Certainly the rest of the world does. There's a farcical "we warn the tsar" quality to domestic debates about complex international issues.
But while the political media is obsessed with the Prime Minister being rolled over the issue in caucus, it's the international diplomacy aspect that will really start to get sticky.
Next year Australia takes its place on the United Nations Security Council. Debates about the effectiveness of the UN aside, the spotlight will shine brightly on the desk that bears our nameplate in New York and the way our representative casts our vote. From a middle power, Australia's voice will be among the 15 that really count.
Only seven countries are expected to vote against the move to upgrade the status of Palestine -- Israel, naturally, the US, Canada and a clutch of Pacific island states. Labor MPs were right to question why the Prime Minister would join a minority group on a largely symbolic step towards achieving what our government says it wants -- a two-state solution in the Middle East.
And so Australia will squib it, sitting on our hands for the vote that will please or appease no one. Once on the Security Council, we're going to have to do better than that.