Labor MP issues explosive call for PM to back Palestine

Dominic Giannini |

WA senator Fatima Payman issued a strong rebuke of the government’s stance.
WA senator Fatima Payman issued a strong rebuke of the government’s stance.

A Labor senator has broken party ranks and called for the prime minister to brand Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip genocide.

Western Australia’s Fatima Payman issued a strong rebuke of her government’s stance on Wednesday, which is also Nakba Day.

Translating to The Catastrophe, the day marks the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, with Palestinians remembering it for the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. 

Labor Senator Fatima Payman
Fatima Payman wants her Labor colleagues to support the recognition of a Palestinian state. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

“My conscience has been uneasy for far too long and I must call this out for what it is – this is a genocide and we need to stop pretending otherwise,” Senator Payman said to reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“I ask our prime minister and our fellow parliamentarians, how many international rights laws must Israel break for us to say enough? 

“How many lives does it take to call this a genocide?”

Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza after Hamas – designated by Australia as a terrorist organisation – killed 1200 people and took 250 hostages on October 7, according to Tel Aviv’s tallies.

More than 35,000 people have been killed and 77,000 injured in Gaza following Israel’s retaliation and besiegement of the strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories found Israel’s military campaign since October 7 amounted to genocide.

Israel has emphatically rejected the use of the term genocide, saying its war was against Hamas militants in Gaza, not civilians, and precautions were being taken to reduce casualties.

Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese has been urged to declare Israel’s conflict with Gaza a genocide. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Senator Payman called on her colleagues to support sanctions, divestment, a permanent ceasefire and the recognition of a Palestinian state.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” she said.

Her words clash directly with recent remarks by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has criticised the phrase, “from the river to the sea”, saying it goes against a two-state solution where Israel and Palestine exist side-by-side.

Asked if the government would support sanctions against Israel, Mr Albanese said it would continue to back a two-state solution.

“The idea we here in Australia can determine what is happening in the Middle East is just not correct,” he said. 

“What we can do is to make our voice heard for humanitarian concerns for standing up for the fact that all lives, all innocent lives matter whether they be Israeli or Palestinian.” 

Palestinians and Israelis have used the phrase to denote a single state but the suffix “Palestine will be free” has been added and used by protesters to call for the end of Israeli occupation.

Supporters hold flags at a pro-Palestine rally
Pro-Palestine protesters rally on the lawns of Parliament House. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Albanese has previously come out against the boycott, divest and sanction movement, saying it is racist to target all Israelis and Jewish people.

One Nation senator Pauline Hanson defended Israel during a Senate debate, saying Jewish people had also been displaced and faced persecution as she sported a scarf with Israel’s Star of David in the chamber.

“Talking about genocide and displacement, the Jewish people have been treated like this for centuries – thousands upon thousands of years by different races and countries,” she said, after being told to remove the item because it breached the rules.

Protesters held a rally on the lawns of Parliament House as Palestine backers and an international human rights body called on the government to do more to support Gaza.

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