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Senator says Labor stoush avoided after Israel change

Trade Minister Don Farrell remains confident a Labor conference stoush has been avoided following the federal government’s change of language on Israel.

Labor is set to strengthen objections to the Israeli government’s planned settlement expansion, and had expressed concerns about activities that hindered the prospect of peace in the region.

As part of the change in language, Australia will return to the position of previous governments and refer to “Palestinian occupied territories”.

This decision matches the position of Australia’s key diplomatic partners such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the European Union.

The issue was set to come to a head at Labor’s upcoming national conference later this week.

Senator Farrell said the position would have the backing of the conference once it began.

“It’s a sensible position that the Labor Party has adopted in respect of Palestine and Israel,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

“(Foreign Minister Penny Wong) has made it very clear that she supports the current policy in respect of Israel and in Palestine and I’d be very confident that the position that she adopts – which the government supports – will be the position that the delegates of the conference will support.”

The coalition had previously accused the government of making decisions on foreign policy via party factions, rather than by aiming to advance peace in the region.

Senator Farrell said he did not intend to stifle debate on the issue at the national conference.

“If you’re a member of the Labor Party, you’re entitled to express your point of view but I think overwhelmingly, Labor Party members, Labour Party supporters, believe this government is heading in the right direction,” he said.

“I’m very confident that the position that the prime minister and the foreign minister have taken on issues will be supported by the overwhelming majority of the delegates of the conference.”

Debates on the AUKUS deal are also set to feature at the party conference, with some local branches critical of the nuclear submarine pact.

Source: Australian Associated Press