About 100 people braved pouring rain in Melbourne on February 19 to protest the visit to Australia by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the wake of a growing corruption scandal around him and the recent passage of the so-called Regularisation Law that retrospectively “legalises” illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the situation of Palestinian communities across the occupied territories has become increasingly desperate.
With increasing rates of demolitions of Palestinian houses, Netanyahu’s whirlwind international tour seems to be about shoring up both his and Israel’s reputations in the face of criticism over the contentious law.
Writer and playwright Samah Sabawi told the rally: "In spite of world condemnation of Israel's actions, Australian leaders are the only ones to criticise the United Nations for censuring Israel. Israel is hoping that 20 years of wearing people down has weakened the people of Palestine. But we are stronger than that. There is a growing movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel."
Other protests occurred Canberra on February 20 and will occur in Sydney on February 23.
An open letter signed by 60 prominent business and religious leaders, lawyers, academics, entertainers and former politicians condemed the visit. The letter, organised by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, said: "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."