Tuesday 3 January 2017

Tony Abbott Says Australia Should Re-Consider Its Aid To Palestinian Authority

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott wants Australia to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority because “it keeps paying pensions to terrorists and their families”.

The former prime minister made the call in an opinion piece published in the Spectator Magazine on Monday.

Australia gives more than $40m a year in aid to Palestine, provided through United Nations agencies and some charitable organisations.

The money goes towards projects to provide Palestinian refugees with basic services such as health, education, water and sanitation.

Last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade suspended aid to World Vision’s work in the Palestinian territories in the wake of allegations the charity’s head in Gaza funnelled millions of dollars to militant group Hamas.

The organisation has denied the claims, which are subject to court proceedings in Israel.

Abbott also said Australia could demonstrate “unswerving support for Israel” by joining any move by the incoming Trump administration to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Most governments have kept their embassy out of Jerusalem because they do not recognise Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem since 1967.

Noting that Israel’s GDP per person was about $40,000 a year, compared with Palestine’s of about $2,000, Abbott blamed the economic problems of the territories on “a focus on politics over economics and the all-pervading sense of grievance” among Palestinians.

Last week the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, strongly indicated that Australia would not have supported a UN resolution – co-sponsored by New Zealand – criticising Israel’s settlements policy in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The Israeli government reacted furiously when the US abstained on the resolution.

The acting opposition leader, Chris Bowen, said Australian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank was vital to counter extremism and promote peace in the Middle East.

“Mr Abbott is clearly using this as yet another issue to undermine Malcolm Turnbull and continue his campaign to regain the leadership by appealing to the hardliners in the Liberal party,” Bowen said.

Australia’s aid program must be transparent and accountable and must reach those it was intended to benefit, he said.

Abbott recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, including Israel. He attended the Australia-Israel-UK Dialogue in Jerusalem with opposition leader Bill Shorten and other federal MPs.

In his article Abbott also noted that at the dialogue Professor Nir Shaviv of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem “methodically debunked the climate change theories peddled by the UN Panel”.

If he was right, Abbott wrote, “countries like ours have been inflicting pointless economic pain upon themselves’.



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