The Abbott Government has, as predicted, changed some votes on recurring Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolutions at the UN General Assembly.  

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has indicated that Australia has switched votes from 'in favour' to 'abstain' on two resolutions — one calls for an end to all Israeli settlement activity in the territory it occupied in June 1967, and the other affirms that the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is applicable to these territories. These are both basically recurring resolutions (meaning they are adopted every year).

Commenting on the switch, Foreign Minister Bishop said that it 'reflected the government's concern that Middle East resolutions should be balanced. The government will not support resolutions which are one-sided and which pre-judge the outcome of final status negotiations between the two sides'.

Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek stated that she was 'surprised' by the change, and called on the government to 'explain why they've changed the view and also why so secretly.' However, if the Shadow Foreign Minister had followed the Coalition's statements while they were in opposition, she might not have been so surprised.

The Coalition is shifting towards the voting pattern the Australian Government had during the late Howard years, and we should expect more of this, especially concerning the recurring 'right of the Palestinian people to self-determination' and 'permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people' resolutions.

For the record, here's how Australia has voted on these two resolutions over the years:

Year/UNGA session

Israeli settlements are illegal

The Fourth Geneva convention applies

2013/68

Abstain

Abstain

2012/67

In favour

In favour

2011/66

In favour

In favour

2010/65

In favour

In favour

2009/64

In favour

In favour

2008/63

In favour

In favour

2007/62

Against

Abstain

2006/61

Against

Abstain

2005/60

Against

Abstain

2004/59

Against

Abstain

2003/58

Abstain

In favour

2002/57

In favour

In favour

2001/56

In favour

In favour

2000/55

In favour

In favour

1999/54

In favour

In favour

1998/53

In favour

In favour

1997/52

In favour

In favour

Photo courtesy of the Australian Government.