A total of 60 prominent Australians have signed a statement opposing the visit this week by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, due to the harsh and illegal policies that his government continues to inflict upon the Palestinian people. PM Netanyahu will be in Australia between February 22-25.
Signed by artists, writers, academics, clergy, lawyers and former parliamentarians, the statement notes that Israel persists in resisting all United Nations calls for it to comply with international law in relation to its illegal settlement building and its treatment of Palestinians.
The statement points out that over the last 50 years, Israel has held Palestinians under military occupation and continues to:
- illegally build settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem;
- confiscate Palestinian land;
- demolish Palestinian homes;
- imprison Palestinians without trial even of children as young as 12;
- blockade the 1.8 million civilian inhabitants of Gaza.
Bishop George Browning, President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and signatory of the statement said, “Netanyahu’s Government is being investigated for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, been reprimanded by the UN Security Council, and Netanyahu personally is likely to be indicted for fraud charges. He deserves a red card, not a red carpet.”
The statement was released ahead of planned protests in Melbourne (Sunday February 19, 2.00pm, State Library), Canberra (Monday February 20, 12.00pm, Israeli Embassy) and Sydney (Thursday February 23, 6.30pm, Town Hall Square). Prayer vigils in Melbourne and Canberra are also planned.
As well a separate petition, “Jewish Australians say no to Netanyahu”, has attracted over 600 signatories.
The statement was organised by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, a national peak body of groups and individuals concerned about the ongoing violation of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli government.
On December 23, 2016 the UN’s Security Council adopted resolution 2334 condemning the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. The resolution stated that these Israeli settlements have “no legal validity,” constitute a “flagrant violation” under international law and are a “major obstacle” to a two-state solution. Refer to the UN report here.