Australia to abstain from vote on UN status for Palestine

Julia Gillard has compromised on her opposition to Palestinian membership in the United Nations – deciding Australia will abstain when the contentious vote is put in the General Assembly.

Ms Gillard told Labor caucus this morning she did not believe the resolution proposing Palestine be given a similar standing in the UN to the Vatican would advance peace talks with Israel.

But after strong lobbying by both Left and Right factions, Ms Gillard said Australia would not oppose the bid.
Former foreign minister Gareth Evans has also been heavily involved, briefing MPs on the issue and warning Australia would stand on the ''wrong side of history'' by opposing the bid.

A planned motion by Labor backbencher Andrew Leigh calling for Australia to back Palestinian membership has now been withdrawn.

Israel has steadfastly opposed the Palestinian manoeuvre, warning it breaches promises not to make a unilateral declaration of statehood.

Ms Gillard had last year directed Australia to vote against Palestinian membership of the UN cultural body, UNESCO.

She said a yes vote would achieve nothing and set back the peace process.

But the decision to abstain will mark a break with the US, expected to side with Israel.

A majority of countries are expected to back the resolution.

MORE TO COME

The story Australia to abstain from vote on UN status for Palestine first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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