West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit. B’tselem

We’re now all — like it or lump it — in Donald Trump’s world. Trump was vocal about his opposition to and anger when his presidential predecessor didn’t veto Security Council Resolution 2334. That resolution reaffirms “that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

It called for the immediate cessation of illegal settlement activity.

Former president Barack Obama had a fraught relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his hard-right coalition government and chose to abstain rather than veto the resolution.

The Republican Party has strong connections to the Jewish lobby in the United States. Ageing casino magnate Sheldon Adelson donated $82,169,200 to Republican Party-connected groups and individuals in 2016 alone.

Adelson is said to also be a powerful force in Israeli politics due to his large donations to Netanyahu’s Likud Party. The Israeli government appear completely convinced the United States under President Trump will not enforce Resolution 2334 under international law.

Israel waited until Trump was sworn in to defy the United Nations Security Council and approve the building of 2500 units on occupied West Bank territory on Tuesday, Israeli time. 

There is a view the Israeli government is either trying to scuttle the two-state solution or is trying to shrink the Palestinian territory in any future two-state solution.

This all means pressure will continue to build on Bill Shorten and the Labor Right faction. This pressure — from without and within — will be most intense in his home state faction the Victorian Right, which he heads.

He runs Victorian Labor along with the Socialist Left under the terms of the “Stability Pact”. If the Socialist Left changes to a more aggressive stance on Israel that will put his home branch under strain.

The Victorian Right has the strongest connections to the Jewish lobby, through the likes of MPs Michael Danby and Mark Dreyfus, and is particularly aggressive against those who support Palestine.

The New South Wales Right, under the leadership of Tony Burke and former New South Wales premier and foreign minister Bob Carr, has been critical to a more progressive federal policy in this area over recent years.

The Victorian Right has not come to this party, but they can’t necessarily hold it back.

The current policy is that the Australian Labor Party needs to see movement towards a negotiated and lasting peace around a viable two-state solution. Failing that the federal policy is that progress will be made toward Labor recognising Palestine when next in government.

Socialist Left recently took control of the important National Policy Forum, which drafts the platform for the national conference. It’s also been reported that Socialist Left is on the cusp of having the numbers to take over the federal party at the next national conference.

Branches of Labor Friends of Palestine will be meeting over coming weeks and months to hold planning days around how they organise in light of these new international events and the advent of Trump’s pro-Israel administration.

Another topic on everyone’s lips is the news that an Israeli embassy staffer in the UK has been actively interfering in Corbyn’s Labour Party to influence party policy.

Corbyn has written to UK Prime Minister Theresa May seeking a parliamentary inquiry into the revelations.

Given the Jewish lobby is notoriously aggressive worldwide, Australian Labor Party members are now asking whether similar unacceptable Israeli government interventions are occurring within their party and whether that needs to be investigated seriously.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey