Concern about the election of Australia’s new left-wing Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his political stance on Israel is already making news in local and Israeli media. Outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected Amnesty International’s report on Israeli apartheid by merely stating, “No country is perfect.” In October 2021, Morrison also backed the endorsement of the flawed and highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, which has been exploited by pro-Israel lobby groups to silence Palestinians in particular, as well as advocates of the Palestinian cause.
“In Israel, Australia shares an affinity,” Morrison was reported as saying by the Australian Jewish News prior to the election. It was a message from one settler-colonial entity to another.
So far Albanese has been accused of holding an anti-Israel bias. “He continuously describes Israel as the aggressor nation,” said Liberal MN Dave Sharma. “He continually adopts the Palestinian national narrative about where the fault is in this conflict.”
The Jerusalem Post, meanwhile, ran an article describing Albanese as “very critical” of Israel. However, the article’s heading is misleading, to say the least. While it describes Albanese as “a self-declared critic of Israel”, it goes on to give examples to the contrary, such as his recent declaration of ongoing support from the new Australian Labour government, as well as his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).
Comments by Albanese to the Australian Jewish News are more indicative of an ongoing pro-Israel stance rather than a change in Australian diplomacy. Prior to the election, Albanese reiterated his stance against BDS and referred to a campaign in which he was involved which ultimately overturned the Marrickville Council’s decision in 2010 to support the popular boycott movement. Albanese also spoke of Labour’s “proud support” for the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
As such, it seems that the most that Palestinians can hope for from the new Australian government is more stale rhetoric about the two-state compromise. This makes Albanese no different from Morrison, or from other world leaders whose pretence of supporting Palestine is all that is offered in terms of diplomatic engagement with the Palestinian Authority. From its own compromised position as an international mouthpiece for international consensus, the PA will obviously raise no issue regarding the perpetual contradiction that arises from supporting the hypothesis of an independent Palestinian state which is barely a veneer for the ongoing Zionist colonial project.
“The only way that a two-state solution can be achieved is through a negotiated outcome between the two parties,” Albanese told the Australian Jewish News. How critical is that of Israel, we might ask the Jerusalem Post. The statement reeks of Israeli impunity and fails to consider Zionist colonisation of Palestine in the same way that US and EU diplomacy does. And yet, despite ascertaining that Albanese will embrace the Zionist narrative in his role as Prime Minister of Australia, Morrison’s departure is being depicted erroneously as a matter of concern for Israel.
Much like Morrison, though, Albanese will prefer to highlight his affinity with Israel. Australia’s colonial legacy after all, has still not been addressed completely, and the indigenous Aboriginal population are still subject to having their narratives marginalised and shunned. Supporting Israel diplomatically to persevere with its settler-colonial, apartheid enterprise is unlikely to be halted under a new left-wing Australian government which has already indicated that it will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps.