Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Carr Diary 11: Reflections 5

November 20, 2012 sees another 'Australian' vote in the UN, another day of shame in the UN:

"To feed my gloomy irritation I sustain another defeat at the hands of the Likudniks. This is over how we vote in the UN in a dispute between Israel and Lebanon. When I met the Lebanese Foreign Minister in Cairo in September I told him we would be more sympathetic than we'd been in the past on the annual General Assembly motion that deals with the 2006 destruction by the Israeli air force of the oil-storage tanks in the Jiyeh Power Plant in Lebanon. This caused an oil slick along the Lebanese and Syrian coasts. This motion calls on Israel to provide compensation to Lebanon and Syria. We had voted against the resolution on the grounds that we do not consider the General Assembly the appropriate forum. But this implies we are unsympathetic and in my view Lebanon is a country with which we have friendly relations. Moreover, we have over 181,000 people of Lebanese ancestry living in Australia. I wanted to abstain. For some reason this motion got threaded through the Prime minister's office - even though it doesn't deal with Palestinian status or the Israel-Palestine dispute - and today I got a message that we were not to shift our vote to an abstention but were to continue to vote against this resolution. This would place us with only seven nations." (pp 223-24)

In a series of text message exchanges between Carr and the PM, Gillard asserts that she alone has the final word on all UN resolutions. Carr, less than impressed, turns to former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans:

"I rang Gareth Evans and he said a 'no' vote by us would be the worst Australian foreign- policy decision in a generation. He told me to fight all the way." (p 226)

The November 22 vote on Lebanon's Israeli-generated oil slick is the last straw:

"[T]oday... I get the report from the UN mission: 152 nations voted yes, a few abstained, seven voted no. In this last category: the US, Canada, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Micronesia, Israel and - disgracefully, shamefully - us. The shame." (p 227)

A call to the PM on the fast-approaching Palestinian status vote elicits this:

"She tells me the Jewish community remains very important and they won't settle for anything other than a 'no' vote, that they figure prominently in fundraising and they're big in Victoria." (p 229)

IOW, bend the knee and kiss the ring, Bob, just like I do.

The fight is on.

To be continued...

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