Written by Adam Kamien. Australian Jewish News. Aug 23rd 2013..
Michael Danby is the Federal Member of Parliament for Melbourne Ports, which has a large Jewish population.
Michael Danby has accused Bob Carr of accepting the “narrow view” of a department within his ministry on the legality of Israeli settlements, and said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was yet to form his views on the matter.
Danby came out swinging following comments earlier this month from Carr that the government and the Prime Minister viewed all Israeli settlements as illegal.
Speaking at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, Carr said “All settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease. That is the position of Kevin Rudd, the position of the federal Labor government and we don’t make apologies for it.”
Danby, however, told The AJN yesterday he was “disappointed” by Carr’s comments, but said the Foreign Minister’s claims that it was the government’s official position were patently false.
“There’s a narrow view in the Department of Foreign Affairs, in their legal section, that the settlements are illegal. It’s not the view of the government as I understand it,” Danby said.
“He [Carr] has accepted their [the legal department’s] view. The Prime Minister hasn’t accepted that view as far as I understand it
“I disagree with the Foreign Minister‘s interpretation of this. I was disappointed; of course I was disappointed.”
Danby said the only official position of the Commonwealth was support for peace negotiations without preconditions, something he believes is at odds with Carr‘s statement about settlements.
“How can we support the international peace negotiations if we’re cutting off one area of discussion?
“If you support the peace negotiations, and they involve settlements and land swaps, then arcane views on what the Department of Foreign Affairs’ legal section thinks of legality is not the political view that should prevail.
“The prevailing view of the Australian government is to support the [peace] negotiations and they were agreed without preconditions. If you support the peace negotiations as your primary thing, other views are subsumed by that”
The Member for Melbourne Ports said it wasn’t the place of the Australian government to meddle in the foreign policy of sovereign nations.
“Australia’s not a party to these [peace process] discussions. We’re openly supporting the Palestinians and Israelis making these decisions themselves and we should leave it to them”
Danby said he had made “strong representations” to the offices of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and that his views were “working through at the moment”.
The Prime Minister’s office was contacted for comment, but no response was received at the time The AJN went to press.
Also this week, Danby announced he would preference the Coalition and not the Greens in Melbourne Ports at the upcoming federal election.
Danby said he was making good on a promise that he would dump the Greens if the Liberals preferenced Labor in the seat of Melbourne.
“I promised people in the community I would do that Sometimes you lose preferences but win extra support by sticking with those issues.”