Australia Canvassing Pacific Rim on Rescinding ‘zionism is Racism’

The Australian government, fulfilling a parliamentary mandate and a commitment to the Jewish community, is canvassing the Asian and Pacific nations to determine if they would support a move to rescind the 1975 U.N. resolution equating Zionism with racism.

Acting Prime Minister Paul Keating told the biennial conference of the Zionist Federation of Australia this week that “in response to the concerns of Jewish leaders, the government is currently considering action which might be taken toward overturning the resolution, and we are canvassing regional governments for their views.”

The effort is an outgrowth of the unanimous vote by both houses of Parliament in 1986 to rescind the resolution.

A commitment to try was given leaders of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Zionist Federation last month.

But Australian officials made clear to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Australia is unlikely to raise the issue before the United Nations unless and until it appears a clear majority will support the move.

One senior official said the entire campaign could “backfire” if a “forgotten” resolution was given “new life.”

The resolution was adopted in the U.N. General Assembly 15 years ago by a vote of 72-35 with 32 abstentions.

Keating indicated that most of the Pacific rim nations have prepared their responses to Australia’s queries on the subject, although Foreign Minister Gareth Evans has not yet received his department’s findings.

Generally, attitudes toward the resolution are probably reflected in the individual policies of countries toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.

For example, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s self-proclaimed “state of Palestine” is recognized by China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nepal and Vanuatu, all of which were canvassed by Australia.

Vanuatu, formally the New Hebrides, is an island group in the southwest Pacific that achieved independence in 1980.

In addition, Brunei, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam accord full diplomatic status to the PLO.

Chances of rescinding the resolution could rest with the newly democratizing nations of Eastern Europe, along with Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela, which have indicated they now oppose the 1975 resolution.

A change in the attitude of the Soviet Union would be crucial. Although Moscow has indicated a desire to improve relations with Israel, it has stopped short of supporting an overturn of the resolution.

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