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Labor MPs break ranks on Israel

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19 December 2023, Sydney Morning Herald, by Michael McGowan

Dozens of high-profile Labor figures, including members of the Albanese and Minns governments, have signed an open letter declaring the human rights of Palestinians have been ‘‘grossly violated’’ and accusing Israel of policies aimed at ‘‘the domination of one people over another’’.

The letter, co-ordinated by the NSW Labor MP Anthony D’Adam and Greens MP Jenny Leong, calls for a ‘‘permanent ceasefire and a just and lasting peace’’ in Gaza, and urges the Albanese government to recognise Palestine as a state ‘‘entitled to be free of occupation’’ and ‘‘examine’’ its relationship with Israel.

It is signed by 11 members of the Minns government; federal Labor’s Maria Vamvakinou (Victoria) and WA senators Louise Pratt and Fatima Payman; and former NSW premier and foreign affairs minister Bob Carr.

The letter accuses Israel of an ongoing ‘‘military occupation, illegal settlement expansion, land theft, violence, discrimination, restrictions on movement and the subjugation of the Palestinian people’’.

‘‘It is beyond dispute that Israel is committed to policies designed to entrench the domination of one people over another in the territories of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,’’ the letter says. ‘‘Attempts to deny this, or smear those who allege it, are an attempt to defy truth and reality.

‘‘These events and policies have involved the destruction of Palestinian society and the denial of the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people.’’

Israel’s assault on Gaza, launched in response to Hamas’ attack in southern Israel on October 7, has caused the deaths of more than 18,700 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

In Australia, the conflict has spurred a wave of pro-Palestinian protest in capital cities including Sydney and Melbourne.

Last week, in a surprise shift in its previous stance on the conflict, the federal government broke with the United States to support an immediate ceasefire at the United Nations General Assembly.

The letter challenges Australia’s support for Israel and urges the Commonwealth to view the conflict within a broader historical context.

Condemning the ‘‘horrific acts of Hamas on 7 October’’, it urges the Albanese government to ‘‘recognise Palestine as a state that is entitled to be free of occupation’’. Violations of Palestinian rights, it says, began with the ‘‘violent displacement of some 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland’’ when Israel was founded in 1948.

The ‘‘military occupation’’ of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel since 1967, it says, involved ongoing ‘‘illegal settlement expansion, land theft, violence, discrimination, restrictions on movement and the subjugation of the Palestinian people’’.

More than 200 current and former federal and state MPs and local councillors signed the letter, coorganised by the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network.

Australia’s relationship with Israel, it says, should focus on ‘‘positively contributing to the resolution of this intolerable and dangerous situation that threatens the people of Israel and Palestine and the entire international community’’.

‘‘We stand with Palestine, the Palestinian people, including Palestinian Australians and with all others who support truth and justice, including the many Jewish people protesting Israeli violence against Palestinians,’’ it states.

Leong and D’Adam, an assistant minister, welcomed the UN vote but said the cross-party statement reflected a view that ‘‘the horrific escalation of the situation in Palestine cannot be disconnected from the systematic and long-term oppression’’ condemned by human rights organisations.

Article link: https://todayspaper.smedia.com.au/smh/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=SMH20231219&entity=Ar00104&sk=29214F27&mode=text
Article source: Sydney Morning Herald | Michael McGowan | 19.12.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000