Australia's Policy on the Israel-Palestine Peace Process: Influences and Implications

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Rane, Halim

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Ewart, Jacqui

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This thesis examines Australia‘s current political response towards the Israel-Palestine peace process. It analyses the domestic factors that have the potential to shape Australia‘s foreign policy on the peace process. It also looks at what it will broadly mean for Australia should the current policy be maintained in relation to Australian values and commitment to issues of human rights and upholding international law. The domestic factors analysed in this thesis include the mass media, public opinion, lobby groups and business groups. An analysis of two Australian newspapers found that the Australian press coverage lacked depth and discussion of final status issues (the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugees). Relatively few articles address these issues within frames of their historical context and significance in international law. On the other hand, a national survey conducted shows that the majority of Australians identify with the Palestinian narrative, especially regarding final status issues. Moreover, Australians support their Government in adopting a policy on the conflict that is based on international law. This support, however, is not reflected in the Government‘s political response. The Australian Government supports the right for both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace but since 2004, contradicts this stance by voting against key UN resolutions concerning the rights of Palestinians. As the media and the Australian public have had a minimal impact on the Government‘s political response, this allows other domestic forces with more specific agendas to influence policy-makers. This study finds that the pro-Israel lobby and Jewish organisations in Australia play a significant role in persuading Australian politicians to adopt a political stance that reflects the Israeli narrative. Australian politicians appear more willing to acknowledge the importance of safeguarding Israel‘s security over restoring Palestinians‘ rights. These findings have also been confirmed through extensive interviews conducted with former and present Australian diplomats and politicians from both major political parties. Australia‘s policy on the Israel-Palestine peace process will have an impact on the way the international community regards Australia. Australia prides itself as being a good international citizen which values the rule of law, justice and human rights. Voting against key UN resolutions that advocate the rights of Palestinians questions this commitment as it portrays a government that is only capable of paying lip service but not transcending its stated beliefs into actual practice. This study‘s overall finding is that certain domestic factors are able to influence foreign policy more than others depending on specific socio-political context as well as other external geopolitical dynamics.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Humanities

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Israel-palestine Peace Process

Australian foereign policy on Israel

Australian foreign policy on Palestine


Israeli settlements

Palestinian refugees

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