Friday, March 18, 2016

Spotlight on the 'Australia Israel Labor Dialogue' 2

More from The Australian's John Lyons on the Elbit Systems-linked Australia Israel Labor Dialogue - Carr wants friends of Israel to open books (17/3/16):

"Pressure is growing for a Labor friends-of-Israel group to open its accounts to show who has been funding trips to Israel for trade unionists and members of the Labor Party. Former NSW premier and foreign minister Bob Carr said yesterday the current situation amounted to 'a shameful look' for Labor's support base. He warned the issue could damage the ALP with its 'hundreds of thousands of voters with Arabic backgrounds'.

"The Australian reported yesterday that a key figure in the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue - Mary Easson - is a lobbyist for the Australian subsidiary of Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit. Elbit is one of Israel's largest manufacturers of bombs, mortars, cyber-warfare systems and drones and was a key supplier of the army during the 2014 war against Gaza. On its website, it says one of its newest products has 'unprecedented lethality.' Ms Easson denies Elbit has ever made a donation to AILD. But Mr Carr said any connection to Elbit was 'a shameful look - arms dealers, civilian deaths, the electronic fence. It would be common sense for party leaders to say the Dialogue must present an independently audited account of its fundraising. The party's credibility with literally hundreds of thousands of voters with Arabic backgrounds is at stake,' he said.

"Ms Easson says Elbit Systems of Australia managing director Dan Webster has assured her no donation had been made from Elbit to the AILD. Mr Carr's call was supported by NSW ALP assistant secretary Rose Jackson, who took one of the AILD's trips. 'All funding and connection should absolutely be publicly declared,' she said. However, many of those who have taken trips clearly do not want to talk about them. The candidate for the federal seat of Perth, lawyer Ted Hammond, has refused to answer questions about his trip. NSW AILD branch patron, former Queensland premier Peter Beattie said Mr Carr's comments were internal ALP warfare. 'I am not interested in a petty side argument between the warring factions in the ALP over Israel and Palestine,' he said. Mr Beattie said there had been no donations since he became patron last year, 'so there was nothing to audit'.

"The growing division within the party over the issue was further evident yesterday when Labor Friends of Palestine published a list of all union and party officials known to have taken trips. The group said Elbit's profits increased 6.1% in July 2014, during the Gaza war, and that Human Rights Watch had confirmed that Elbit's drones had been used on Palestinian civilians. It said the Norwegian State Pension Fund, Denmark's Danske bank, Sweden's largest pension funds, Germany's Deutsche Bank and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund had divested themselves from Elbit for ethical reasons. A growing number of senior ALP figures - including Mr Carr, Tony Burke, Jason Clare, Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese - have all made clear that if Israel continues to expand the population of its settlements on the West Bank and there is no progress to a two-state solution, the next Labor government will recognise Palestine."

No comments: