Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Carr Diary 9: Reflections 3

A clearly frustrated Carr resolves to face the Prime Minister:

"But the Arabs all know that on Palestinian entry to UNESCO last year we didn't even abstain; we voted 'no'. So all this effort for nothing? I quietly resolve that back in Australia I'm going to have to persuade the Prime Minister we need an abstention on the resolution on Palestinian status." (p 177)

On October 10, 2012:

"I went to the Prime Minister's office... I sat down with her, Hubbard and Richard Maude. I made the case on the Palestinians. She grew uneasy as I explained it was coming to a head; we could lose all 21 votes of the Arab League and more from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. I told her I'd spoken to Yuval Rotem, the Israeli Ambassador, yesterday and urged him to cut us some slack, to accept we could abstain and not kick up a fuss. He said he'd speak to Netanyahu. I explained to the Prime Minister our intelligence confirmed that earlier this year the Israelis were expecting us to abstain. We wouldn't surprise them in going this route. So abstaining would be no big deal. We'd be part of a small minority if we didn't - that is, if we voted 'no' - and we would blow our support from all those Arab states, and that would cost us the Security Council election. Her eyes shifted worriedly. At least she allowed me to explore the idea of the Israelis agreeing to let this slip through." (p 187)

Those prime ministerial eyes say it all. Fear! But of what, exactly?

I'm reminded of the words of the anonymous Australian official quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Hartcher earlier in the same year: "It wouldn't matter whether it was John Howard or Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott in the prime minister's chair... [the Israelis] know they've got us by the balls... partly because of the Israel lobby." (Betrayed PM should not be taken for granted by Israel, 26/2/10) What gives here?

The day after. There's a dawning awareness that having Israeli hands on your balls is, well, frankly undignified, not to mention downright uncomfortable:

"The issue dominates my life. Yuval hasn't got back to me to give me the decision I want, namely advice that he's spoken to Netanyahu and Netanyahu thinks in the greater good he can live with Australia moving from opposition to the abstain column. For God's sake, I repeat to him, you get us on the Security Council for 2 years where we can do you some favours. Parliamentary Secretary Richard Marles, who's part of the pro-Israel Victorian Labor Right, agrees with me and likes the strategy of getting Yuval's consent (pathetic though I think this is). Mark Dreyfus, an intelligent supporter of Israel and Jewish to boot, takes some more arguing. I have a minor explosion of anger and frustration and point out that it's an appalling position if Australia allows a group of businessmen in Melbourne to veto policy on the Middle East." (pp 187-88)

Exactly! The penny finally drops for Bob Carr.

To be continued...

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