Australia Today

Why Doesn't Australia Support Palestinian Statehood?

What is the two-state solution?

Australia’s parliament voted against recognising Palestinian statehood last week, 80 votes to five. In the 24 hours since, a parliament petition calling on the government “to take necessary measures to declare the recognition of the state of Palestine” surpassed 70,000 signatures. But what does this actually mean and why is parliament so intent on holding back?


To recognise the state of Palestine means Australia would establish a diplomatic relationship with Palestine, for example, we would have an ambassador to Palestine like we do with Israel.

But according to the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, the symbolic meaning of recognising Palestine would be “a declaration to Israel that it cannot dictate the terms of Palestine’s relationship with Australia”.

The State of Palestine is recognised by 146 countries around the world and Australia’s came after Spain, Ireland and Norway joined the majority of nations who support Palestinian statehood. Also earlier this month, 143 out of 193 member states of the United Nations’ general assembly voted in favour of Palestinian UN membership, which would recognise them as their own state. Australia was one of the nations that backed this bid, but ultimately our delegates knew Palestine was unlikely to be given this recognition because the US has and can use its veto power in the UN Security Council to block the move.


The Palestinian delegation will therefore, for now, keep its “non-member observer state” status.

At the time the government said “the rejection of Hamas is amongst the reasons why Australia voted for this resolution” because Hamas is pushing for Palestinian statehood and sovereignty.

Australia’s position on Palestine seems inconsistent. We’ve also voted differently on a ceasefire since October 7, one for and one abstention.

So our foreign affairs minister Penny Wong says her government supports Palestine’s UN membership because it is anti-Hamas, but also voted against recognising Palestine as a state in our own legislation and policymaking. 

This is because Australia supports a two-state solution. 

What is the two-state solution?

In 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to recommend the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State, endorsing the "two States for two peoples" principle.

Australia supported the partition of Palestine to create the state of Israel “a Jewish national home” something it promised in the Balfour Declaration after World War I. Back then, supporting the Zionist cause was mainly backed by Labor and opposed by conservatives. In 1948, Israel declared its own statehood, which Australia voted in the UN to support. Israel has been an ally of Australia ever since.


Today, our official line is: Australia does not recognise a Palestinian state. We are committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders.

So when the Greens introduced a motion to the House of Representatives to recognise the state of Palestine it was expected the vote would fail, only five MPs – four greens and one independent – voted in favour.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said last week Australia had a moral responsibility to recognise Palestine, and that a vote for Palestinian statehood would have been “a critical step towards peace and ending the slaughter that we are seeing with the invasion of Gaza right now”.

But he was also accused of “wedge politics” and dividing the community by Labor because he introduced the motion knowing it would fail due to the major parties’ positions. 

But as pressure builds from Australian voters and around the world, could the government follow the majority of nations and recognise Palestine? 

Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.

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