Penny Wong’s Palestine call has been criticised as ‘a win for terrorists’ by the Coalition

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A signal Australia is prepared to recognise a Palestinian state has been branded as a win for Hamas and rewards terrorists.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said statehood could help “build momentum towards a two-state solution” with Israel during a major address to a security conference at the Australian National University.

But the Coalition has questioned whether it was a “unilateral, one-sided” move from Senator Wong.

“It certainly is a significant shift away from the bipartisan position that we have always taken with foreign policy and particularly towards Israel,” frontbencher Jane Hume told Seven.

“This is putting statehood ahead of security and it will be seen as a win for the terrorists.

“The idea that we would reward this kind of behaviour by people offering them statehood, I think, is a significant blow to Jewish Australians who should be rightly concerned with this change in stance.”

Senator Wong told the conference on Tuesday night “the Netanyahu government’s refusal to even engage on the question of a Palestinian state have caused widespread frustration”.

“The international community is now considering the question of Palestinian statehood as a way of building momentum towards a two-state solution,” she said.

The government’s criticism of Israel has increased recently as violence escalated in Gaza, with former ADF chief Mark Binskin appointed to scrutinise Israel’s investigation of the air strikes that killed Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom and six of her colleagues.

A new application for Palestinian statehood is currently being considered by the United Nations security council.

The United Kingdom has suggested it could also recognise Palestinian statehood but Foreign Secretary David Cameron indicated that will not happen while Hamas remains in Gaza.

Senator Wong also referred to Mr Cameron’s statement that recognition could help make a two-state solution “irreversible”.

“There are always those who claim recognition is rewarding an enemy. This is wrong,” she said.

Senator Wong further argued that recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution would help marginalise Hamas, which she described as a “terrorist organisation … which has the explicit intent of the destruction of the state of Israel and the Jewish people … (and) also rains terror on the Palestinian people.”

But the Foreign Minister stressed there would be no role for Hamas in a Palestinian state.

“A two-state solution is the only hope to break the endless cycle of violence.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Daniel Aghion criticised the speech as “not the way to treat a friend and ally of Australia, such as Israel”.

“All reasonable people want to end the cycle of violence and see Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side in peace. However, our Government must be clear-eyed about why peace has remained elusive all these years and the steps necessary to finally achieving it.

“Israel has unilaterally withdrawn from territory and advanced proposals for two-state solutions since 1937. All Israel’s offers have been rejected. Israel is not the obstacle to peace.”

— With Angie Raphael.

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