Aussie personalities unite to stop Israel PM’s visit

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (2ndL), French President Francois Hollande (C), Germany's Chancellor Angela Merke (4thL), European Council President Donald Tusk (5thL) and Palestinian President Mahmo
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (2ndL), French President Francois Hollande (C), Germany's Chancellor Angela Merke (4thL), European Council President Donald Tusk (5thL) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attend the solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris January 11, 2015. Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Israel’s prime minister is expected to set foot on Australian soil, but several high up Aussies do not think he is welcome in the country. More than 60 prominent Australians say Benjamin Netanyahu’s government policies towards Palestinians make him undeserving for a visit to the Land Down Under.

Netanyahu is set for a four-day visit in Australia to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and other leaders. However, prominent Australian personalities have issued a joint statement to condemn his visit.

Religious and business leaders, academics, lawyers, former politicians and entertainers have united to stop Netanyahu from visiting Australia. To name a few, the personalities include retired Anglican Bishop George Browning, former Federal Court judge Murray Wilcox, businesswoman Janet Holmes à Court and “Harry Potter” alum Miriam Margolyes. Five former Labour parliamentarians, Jon Stanhope, Alan Griffin, Melissa Parke, Jill Hall and Laurie Ferguson, also oppose Netanyahu's trip to the country.

They have issued a joint statement to express their thoughts regarding Netanyahu’s scheduled visit. Some Australians believe that Israel’s prime minister sets up rules that "provoke, intimidate and oppress" the Palestinian people. “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 organised by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network said.

Netanyahu's administration has passed a controversial law that allows about 4,000 settler homes to remain on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians are not happy about the law as it blows their hopes of statehood. Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said the law is a breach of international law because it permits expropriation of private land in areas Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war.

Those who oppose Netanyahu's visit believe that the policies of his administration do not match Australian values and beliefs. Browning said the leader of Israel does not deserve a red carpet, but a red card.

Former solicitor-general Gavan Griffith also opposes Netanyahu's impending visit. Griffith claimed that his policies "build understandable resentment, anger and desperation amongst Palestinians.” He urges the Turnbull administration to "rethink its one-sided support" towards Israel’s prime minister.

Meanwhile, Turnbull assured that their position has not changed. “Our position is that there should be a two-state solution negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Sydney Morning Herald has quoted him saying.