Australia has switched its position and voted against Israel on two resolutions which it had previously supported. Howard spent his term voting in lockstep with the US, but some common sense has now prevailed and we are starting to take a more principled stand.
In the weekend vote in New York, Australia supported a resolution calling on Israel to stop establishing settlements in the Palestinian territories and a resolution calling for the Geneva Conventions to apply in the Palestinian territories.
The resolutions on the Middle East peace process are held annually and the Howard government had backed both from 1996 to 2002 but in 2003 began to vote against or abstain. It was a move that aligned Australia with only the US, Israel, the US Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Micronesia and put the country at odds with Britain, Canada, New Zealand and France.
Australian officials told the UN the Government had changed its position because it supported a two-state resolution of the conflict to deliver a secure Israel living beside a viable Palestinian state and that Australia believed both sides should abide by their obligations under the Road Map for Peace.