Amidst the Australian Government’s defence of maintaining a position that East Jerusalem is disputed and not Occupied territory was a statement by Tony Abbot that this year $56 million of Australian foreign aid will be directed to the Palestinian Authority (“PA”).
It was also published that $3.5 billion of agricultural exports, inclusive of wheat and livestock go to Arab League markets, and that this may be at risk due to the Australian Government’s clarification that its policy on the status of Jerusalem remains neutral.
I would hazard a guess that the taxation revenue to the Government associated with company tax profits from this trade is less than the $56 million aid that Australia will give to the PA this year (and the $70 million aid that the PA received from the Australian Government last year). I would also note that in context the Arab league trade amounts to an approximate value of 1% of Australian exports. In the 12 months until April 2014, Australia sent $101 billion of goods to China alone, which was 37% of foreign trade receipts. So the intimidation applied to Australian industry by the Arab league is easily overcome by the search of new markets in other regions, places that won’t hold Australian policy makers to ransom and force the adoption of amoral and historically incorrect interpretation.
Threats aside, recent events should cause Canberra to rapidly reconsider its relationship with the PA. Its unity pact with Hamas places a group, recognised by Australia as a Terrorist organisation, into its Government. Hamas, in its entirety, has been listed by Australia as an entity subject to terrorist asset freezing measures since 21 December 2001. Since this time the stated aims and objectives of Hamas have not wavered.
Even without a terrorist agency in the Palestinian governing coalition, the PA is not fulfilling its agreement conditions, nor has it taken the opportunity it has been extended to negotiate peace. Not a single further dollar of Australian taxpayer money should be sent to this administration until such time as the culture of incitement stops and the culture of coexistence beings in good faith. When the text books of the Palestinians begin to acknowledge and affirm the right of Israel to exist, when the Palestinian children stop getting taught to hate, and when the reality of two secure States supplants the holding of perpetual refugee status through descendancy, then Australian aid could rightly resume with purpose and honour.
When I last wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs querying what precautions Australia was undertaking to ensure that the aid money it provides to the Palestinian Authority was not directly or indirectly used to fund terrorism against Israel I received a standard form response that did not address my question. The best I could get was a statement as follows:
“The Government considers Australia’s aid to the Palestinian Authority to be fully consistent with your obligations under UNSCR 1737. Our aid supports the peace process by helping to establish the institutional and governance foundations required for a future viable Palestinian state. This is in everyone’s interest.
The Government is determined to ensure that aid is not inadvertently provided to any terrorist organisations. Australia’s development assistance to the Palestinian Authority is provided through a World Bank administered trust fund, and directly to United Nations agencies and international and Australian non-Government organisations. The agreements between the Government and these partners include counter-terrorism clauses, and accountability mechanisms, to ensure that this money benefits the people for whom it is intended”
In short, Australia outsources responsibility for assigning, auditing and acquitting aid funds. This is concerning when even prior to the Hamas unity agreement, the PA sent 6% of its budget paying salaries to Palestinians in Israeli jails, including convicted terrorists. Monetary incentives for perpetrating crimes against Israel have been well publicised. Claims of entrenched corruption within the PA are supported by the lack of infrastructure developed commensurate to aid money received. Instead of moving towards self-sufficiency for Palestinian self-determination, Australia joins other nations in perpetuating Palestinian economic welfare dependency. The PA entity continues to fund propaganda and incitement.
More concerning still is the broader geo-politic of the Middle East, which has taken a fundamental shift in recent times. This is best evidenced by the relatively tame response by the USA to the ISIS-Sunni conquest of Northern Iraq including the control of oil fields. Ironically the Kurdish Peshmerga army have taken advantage of their semi-autonomous status to take control of Kirkuk and its energy infrastructure, and are sending oil consignments to, would you believe, Israel. To heap irony upon irony, note that the pipeline itself is not deemed Occupied, but disputed.
Concurrently, both Israel and the USA are nearing an era of energy self-sufficiency, so the economic dependency on Arab League oil, and the military intervention that was necessary to preserve the supply chain is no longer a critical strategic risk. There have been moderate movements in the price of oil in recent weeks, but nothing like the gulf oil crises’ of the past.
This means that any military intervention relating to the ISIS advance and other regional campaigns needs to be justified on moral and humanitarian grounds, as well it should. It is here that further hard questions should be asked:
- Why do international security forces not take action against ethnic cleansing in Syria, conducted by the Alawaites and their Shi’ite allies in Iran, which has resulted in 160,000 deaths, over 3 million Syrian refugees, and the use of chemical warfare?
- Why are USA and allied troops leaving Afghanistan and who will act to save the lives of innocent civilians if the Taliban engage in mass slaughter once the defensive forces complete their retreat?
- Why is President Obama courting Iran in an effort to stablise Iraq, and at the same time ignoring their continued enrichment of uranium? And if Iran’s nuclear program is for the peaceful provision of domestic power, why is centrifuge activation beyond the level required for a power grid considered necessary?
- Why is Israel condemned by the “international community” for defending itself from missile attacks across its border?
It is not difficult to view this from the theological prism of a clash of civilisations. That is how the Islamist groups see it, and that is why a political or diplomatic response that is sanction driven will not succeed. Resurgent Islam is moving rapidly, and Israel is the first line of western democratic defence.
Don’t expect any in-depth analysis or informed coverage from our trash-entertainment news media anytime soon, but if there was such a thing as objective investigative journalism left in our marketplace then maybe some of the tough questions would be asked. In response, our taxpayer funds may be held to a greater sense of accountability, and a moral beacon can be implemented to guide the provision of Australian foreign aid.