Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to arrive in Australia on Tuesday for the first-ever visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to the country.
Dave Sharma, Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, called the visit to his country "massively significant" and "historic," saying, "We attach a great deal of significance to having an Israeli prime minister visit, spend time with the Australian political leadership, with the Jewish community and give Israel’s perspective on world affairs. There is a lot of symbolic and historic significance attached to this visit."
But some people don’t share the same positive sentiments.
According to the Australian newspaper The Age, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plans to visit Australia has set off a maelstrom with 60 prominent anti-Israel activists protesting the visit, including businesswoman Janet Holmes à Court, former Federal Court judge Murray Wilcox, retired Anglican bishop George Browning, and Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes, a member of the anti-Israeli organizations ENOUGH! and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
According to The Age, "Business and religious leaders, lawyers, academics, entertainers and former politicians have joined forces to oppose Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Australia, saying his policies 'provoke, intimidate and oppress' the Palestinian people and are pushing the Middle East further from peace."
"Mr. Netanyahu’s visit comes just weeks after his government passed a controversial law retroactively legalizing 4000 settlers’ homes built on privately owned Palestinian land. The measure has drawn international condemnation and reignited debate about Australia’s approach to Israel."
The statement, organized by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, says, "Mr. Netanyahu’s policies consistently aim to provoke, intimidate and oppress the Palestinian population which increase that imbalance, thus taking Israel irretrievably further from peace."
"These policies are inconsistent with Australian values and beliefs and we should not welcome him here."
Bishop Browning said Mr. Netanyahu "deserves a red card, not a red carpet."
A separate petition said, "Australia should not welcome the Prime Minister of Israel.
"We strongly oppose the official visit to Australia of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Israel continues to defy all United Nations calls for it to comply with international law in respect of its illegal settlement building, and its treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population. Instead, over the last 50 years, Israel has held the people of Palestine under military occupation and:
- continues to illegally build settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem;
- continues to confiscate Palestinian land;
- continues to demolish Palestinian homes;
- continues its policy of imprisonment of Palestinians without trial even of children as young as 12; and
- continues its blockade of the 1.8 million civilian inhabitants of Gaza.
"Those actions are not symbolic of a nation desirous of building peace with its neighbors. Those policies build understandable resentment, anger and desperation amongst Palestinians.
"We want all Israelis and Palestinians to have peace and freedom; we oppose all forms of terrorism and criminal violence by either side. We recognize when there is a gross imbalance of power, conflict will never be resolved. Mr. Netanyahu’s policies consistently aim to provoke, intimidate and oppress the Palestinian population which increase that imbalance, thus taking Israel irretrievably further from peace. These policies are inconsistent with Australian values and beliefs and we should not welcome him here.
"The Australian Government needs to rethink its one-sided support for the Israeli Government. We are appalled that our Government opposes the recent UN Security Council resolution supporting the application of international law to Israel and Palestine, when most nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France and New Zealand, support it. Even the USA did not oppose it. It is time for the suffering of the Palestinian people to stop and for Australia to take a more balanced role in supporting the application of international law and not supporting Mr. Netanyahu and his policies."
The statement made no mention of ongoing Palestinian Arab terror against Jews or that Israeli-built homes, and just recently the entire village of Amona, have been destroyed as well if the courts declare them illegal. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly refused to negotiate directly with Israel unless Israel fulfills certain preconditions. In addition, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas considers the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state to be "destructive" to the two-state solution.