Bob Carr, former New South Wales Premier (1996-2006) and former Australian Foreign Minister (2012-2013) has had his fair share of time in the political limelight, but his latest role advocating for the recognition of a Palestinian state is arguably his most controversial.
While some say Bob Carr is moving with the times, others claim Bob Carr, who launched Labor Friends of Israel 40 years ago, is a hypocrite. But Mr Carr has defended his actions and his change of perspective, stating that in past he and other politicians, “only had one side of the narrative, the Israeli side.”
Mr. Carr spoke to a small group of Arab Australians at the Arab Council Australia headquarters in Bankstown today. There to discuss Middle East policy in Australian politics, Mr. Carr shared anecdotes from his time as Foreign Minister, noting that the information he has gained from his time in politics has led him to take on his current pro-Palestinian political stance.
In 2014, Mr. Carr drafted a successful New South Wales motion, “to consult like-minded nations toward recognition of a Palestinian state,” and aims to take this motion to the ALP National conference in July this year. He is calling on a future government to back a two-state solution and to acknowledge, “Middle East peace will only be won with the establishment of a Palestinian state”.
During his time speaking at the Arab Council, Mr. Carr also encouraged young Palestinians to express their views openly and share their personal stories.
“There needs to be more balance in the narrative. There is a shift and movement in the Labor party and my vision is that this community [the Palestinian community] has a voice in speaking up against an Israeli leadership that says there will not be a Palestinian state,” he said.
Condemning the mistreatment of Palestinians and what he refers to as “the illegal settlements [of Israel] in Palestine,” Mr. Carr went on to detail instances of clashing with Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard over her pro-Israel views during a critical vote in the United Nations.
“The Israeli government needs to be held accountable for its policies and mistreatment of Palestinians, especially the youth. It’s time there was a change and it’s time the government at least had a debate about it.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Arab Council Australia, Randa Kattan praised Mr. Carr for standing up for oppressed Palestinians. “We have been frustrated after fighting for our cause for so long but it’s time to stop making excuses and do something about it. Sometimes all you need is a small group of a people to make a big political change,” she said.