The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) has written to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to express its dismay over her decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Australia next year.
In an open letter to the Foreign Minister, APAN President George Browning noted the particularly unfortunate timing of the visit.
“Next year the Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem will mark their 50th year living as non-citizens in their own country under a regime of apartheid that systematically denies their human rights. The significance of the Australian Government’s decision to host a man who has devoted his political career to perpetuating and consolidating this regime in 2017 will not be lost on either Palestinians or Israelis,” he wrote.
After inviting Prime Netanyahu to Australia, Ms Bishop affirmed her “absolute enduring commitment to the state of Israel” and declared that “the Australian public would warmly embrace you, welcome you.”
“It is on behalf of a great many Australians who believe that an Australian Foreign Minister should be absolutely loyal to only one country, and who do not share your desire to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu that I am registering this protest,” Browning noted. “No Australian interests are being served by this visit; nor can any platitudes about innovation, partnerships and shared values obscure the fact that the government is undermining the chances of a peaceful settlement in Israel/Palestine in its embrace of the last apartheid regime in the world today.”
Noting that in March 2015, “Netanyahu was re-elected as the leader of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history on a platform of continued settlement expansion, explicit opposition to Palestinian statehood and naked appeals to anti-Arab racism,” Browning wrote that he would “take every opportunity to call upon other Members of Parliament who are concerned about human rights, together with the Australian public, to help salvage what remains of Australia’s honour and reputation by protesting Netanyahu’s visit.”