By Aleksandra Bliszczyk
The unprecedented act joined together former Australian leaders from both major parties, with only one previous Prime Minister opting not to be associated.
All of Australia’s living former prime ministers, bar one, have signed a joint letter calling for an end to “religious hatred” they say has been spread by Hamas.
Co-written and signed by former Labor and Liberal leaders Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, John Howard, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, only former Labor PM Paul Keating, who was in power from 1991 to 1996, opted not to be involved.
“We believe we speak for the vast majority of Australians, of all faiths and of none, when we say we stand in solidarity with Jewish Australians at this time,” the letter read.
“Likewise, we stand too with the Australian Palestinian community whose families are dying and suffering in this terrible conflict. They too deserve our love and support.”
The former Prime Ministers called Hamas’s October 7 attack “cruel and murderous”.
“It was the single greatest massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust and its grotesque cruelty and violence was comparable to that of ISIS,” the letter read. The group also accused Hamas of having “no more interest in the safety of Palestinians than do they of Israelis”, and of provoking a “reaction” from Israel that would “kill countless civilians” in Gaza.
“Israel promises it will do all it can to avoid civilian casualties, we urge it to do so with all of its humanity and skill,” they said.
“We are horrified by the thousands of deaths and injuries inflicted on innocent Palestinian civilians, including many, many Palestinian children.”
The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) responded on Tuesday and accused the former leaders of “gut-wrenching hypocrisy”.
APAN president, Nasser Mashni, said the letter demonstrated “explicit pro-Israel bias, failing to recognise Israeli responsibility for bombings that have already killed more than 8,000 people in Gaza”.
“Their significant platform should have been used to echo calls by the United Nations for an immediate ceasefire,” he said.
“How the former Prime Ministers could have the audacity to quote religious texts about peace while Israel is carpet bombing two million people in Gaza is gut-wrenching hypocrisy.”
As of Monday, an estimated 8,000 Palestinians, including at least 2,913 children, have been killed by Israeli air strikes since October 7, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and at least 1,400 Israelis were killed in Hamas’s initial attacks.