A prominent Jewish community leader will seek an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard with the hope Australia will yet oppose a Palestinian seat in the United Nations.
Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, said time was of the essence before the Palestinian bid is put to the vote in New York on Thursday (around 7.30 am Friday).
”We’re exploring that right now,” Mr Chester said.
”Our aim is to talk to the Prime Minster at the first instance, others we have to think about.”
Ms Gillard’s decision on Tuesday for Australia would abstain in the contentious plan to give Palestinians a greater say in the UN caught many observers by surprise.
She was forced to abandon her personal opposition to the plan after a heated cabinet discussion where at least 10 ministers warned she faced a caucus revolt unless Australia at least sat on the fence.
Mr Chester was at pains to emphasise his organisation would not make threats – ‘‘we’re not a lobby group in terms of how people should vote’’ – but said many in the Jewish community had expressed surprise and disappointment over Ms Gillard’s decision.
”Israel is very important to the community and both parties know that,” he said.
He said Foreign Minister Bob Carr – who was instrumental in gathering support for Australia to abstain – held a view in good faith but he disagreed.
”We have talked to him before on some of these issues, we didn’t have a sense that he supported unilateralism in the UN. I guess technically he is not because he is abstaining, but I’m not sure as time goes on what his view is going to be if this issue continues to ramp up,’’ he said.
”I don’t want to use the term ‘lose faith’, but we are concernced, we are very disappointed, and we need to understand better going forward what this really means.”
Mr Chester said things could happen on the floor of the UN that might prompt the government to rethink its position.
The opposition seized in Senate question time on revelations Prime Minister Julia Gillard had caved in to pressure from within her party over the issue.
Senate opposition leader Eric Abetz asked if Foreign Minister Bob Carr had threatened to vote against Ms Gillard in caucus and whether his ”honeyed words” were designed to paper over her humiliation.
”The answer to that is no,” Senator Carr told the chamber. ”I do like his language … honeyed words … I like that deft Shakespearean touch.”
Senator Carr said the decision was balanced. ”The vast bulk of Australians want a two-state solution,” he told the chamber. ”On countless occasions the previous coalition government opted to abstain. It’s a valid option.”
Senator Carr said US ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich was ”entirely relaxed” about Australia’s stance. Mr Bleich has made public comments expressing that sentiment.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.