Friday, April 18, 2014

The Carr Diary 10: Reflections 4

Carr writes on October 17:

"So far there's been no evidence of the Arabs mobilising because we've failed to reply to the Palestinian letter [asking how we intend to vote]." (p 193)

This failure of the (retarded? slumbering?) Arab states to raise the issue of Palestine with Australia comes as a relief to Carr. Surely, you think, that's an end of the matter for him. Why not read it as a sign that the Arab states don't give a toss about Palestine, that our bid for a SC seat is therefore effectively in the bag, and simply fall in line with the PM's resolve to vote down the Palestinian's bid for upgraded status in the UN?

But no, an odd thing happens. Carr begins to brood. Deep in the recesses of his deeply pragmatic being, something stirs. A sense that something still isn't quite right? Dare I say it, a conscience?

It's November 10, 2012:

"Flying from Singapore to Sydney. Our stance on the Middle East is shameful, in lockstep with the Likud, designed to feed the worst instincts of Israel and encourage it to self-destruct, placing us with the Marshall Islands and Canada and rejecting the entire Arab world and the Palestinians. First the Prime Minister stopped a message to the Palestinians before the UN vote that we would 'not oppose' enhanced Palestinian status. She was right tactically because not responding did not destroy our chances... I readily concede all that. But it would have been the better course to have told them it was our intention to abstain, the better policy, the honourable one, the position in Australia's interests. Then she swiftly overruled my approval for our UN mission voting in favour of an Egyptian motion on non-proliferation in the Middle East. We had to tell the Egyptians the reversal had been made 'at the highest level'. In other words, the Prime Minister had overruled her Foreign Minister. I'm advised by our UN mission that Egypt and the Arab League are forming the view that having been elected to the Security Council, Australia has now walked away: 'after you got elected this is all we get.' This made me wince. Netanyahu is spreading more settlements and this week I wanted to issue a statement using the word 'condemn', as the UK did... But all statements on the Middle East have to be threaded through the Prime Minister's office. Back came the reply: one, we don't use the word 'condemn'; two, it must go past her staffer Bruce Wolpe and Cabinet Secretary Mark Dreyfus; and three, whatever we do, advise the Israeli ambassador first. But this morning I ring James from the airport lounge in Singapore to move things along and I get the advice that any statement on settlements - even that 'we express concern' - is vetoed by the Prime Minister. He was told this by Richard Maude, her foreign policy adviser, the diplomat on her staff. Extraordinary. We can do nothing." (pp 212-13)

He concludes, in as succinct and accurate a summing up of Australia's Middle East policy as it's possible to make:

"We are not running an Australian foreign policy. It's not even pro-Israeli, in the deepest Rabin-style understanding of the country's survival; that is, an acknowledgment that without a Palestinian state, Israel will morph into an apartheid state with a burgeoning captive Palestinian population denied civil rights.... Subcontracting our foreign policy to party donors is what this involves. Or appears to involve." (p 214)

To reiterate his earlier words: "Extraordinary. We can do nothing."

To be continued...

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