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April 9, 2014 1:55 pm

Former Australian Foreign Minister Accuses Jewish Donors of Influencing UN Vote on Palestinian Authority Status

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr. Photo: WikiCommons.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr. Photo: WikiCommons.

In a new political autobiography, former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr related the tensions that split the Cabinet in the 2012 United Nations vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to observer status, accusing Jewish campaign donors of pushing the government to follow Israel’s position against the move.

According to a review of ‘Bob Carr: Diary of a Foreign Minister’ in the UK Guardian, Carr “suggested that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s dogged insistence on supporting Israel in a controversial United Nations vote was because Australian foreign policy had been ‘subcontracted’ to Jewish donors.”

In October and November 2012, “Carr campaigned against Gillard’s insistence that Australia should support Israel and vote against Palestinian observer status in the United Nations,” The Guardian wrote, with the vote becoming “entwined in the leadership tensions that were reaching a crescendo at the time.”

Carr related a heated conversation with Kevin Rudd, who had previously been prime minister and would be re-elected in 2013, before resigning that year when Labour lost the next election.

“How much of this is about money, I asked him,” Carr wrote in his book. “He said about one-fifth of the money he had raised in the 2007 election campaign had come from the Jewish community.”

Carr said that “subcontracting our foreign policy to party donors is what this involves. Or appears to involve.”

He wrote that nine government ministers spoke against Gillard when the UN vote was discussed, and only two were in favor of her position.

The Guardian wrote, “But she remained unmoved and said it was a ‘prime minister’s call.’ She only changed her mind when she realized she was set to be overruled by the caucus – which would have ended her already tenuous hold on the leadership.”

In that UN vote, Australia abstained. Nine countries — Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, Palau, and the United States — voted against, and 138 were in favor.

According to the UN report on the vote, “Australia’s representative said that its decision to abstain in the vote balanced its support for the right of the Palestinian people to have a State with its concern for the need for a negotiated two-State solution.  The resolution would confer the status of a non-Member Observer State on Palestine, not that of a Member State.  He was concerned the resolution might make a negotiated solution more difficult.  He urged both parties to return to negotiations, and said that it was important that neither side take actions now that would jeopardize that goal.”

According to The Guardian‘s review, most of the anecdotes showed Carr trying to distance himself from other government leaders. The book also went into obsessive detail about Carr’s diet, his inability to follow it because of so much time on airplanes and how taking business class was infuriating, when he had been accustomed to first-class berths.

About the book, itself, former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told Guardian Australia the project was “inappropriate”, “embarrassing” and “wrong,” while Carr responded that every U.S. secretary of state has written a memoir.

“When it was reported in November 2012 that Carr was keeping a diary of his time as foreign minister with the intent of publishing it – based on the accounts of numerous sources – Carr immediately issued a statement denying he was writing a book,” The Guardian wrote.

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