Rudd's move to 'recognise' Israel's national day criticised


As the horror of Israel's recent attacks on Gaza spread, UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon could only describe Israel's rocket launches as "an excessive use of force". By contrast, he described a Palestinian homemade rocket, which killed two Israeli soldiers and one civilian, as a "terrorist" act.

The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, pointed to the hypocrisy of those who hide behind "a supposed right to defence" to bomb neighbouring territories. Chavez has drawn parallels between Israel's attacks on Gaza and Colombia's recent incursion into Ecuador to assassinate the chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

As news of the Gaza killings spread, with graphic images of children being carried at their own funerals, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called off so-called "peace" talks with his Israeli counterpart, prompting the Bush administration to send Condoleezza Rice back to Israel to "revive" the talks.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has decided to "honour" Israel by acknowledging Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day) on March 12.

"When we voted John Howard out of office, we voted for change. Labor's support for Israel flies in the face of reality — which is that it is an apartheid state which consistently violates international law, UN resolutions and human rights conventions", Alex Bainbridge from Sydney Stop the War Coalition told Green Left Weekly.

"Israel was not a land without people. Sixty years ago, the Palestinian people were displaced and their marginalisation and oppression has continued since then."

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition has joined the call by Palestinian solidarity groups across Australia for the Rudd government to stop supporting Israel's apartheid-like war policies. "Israel was forced by resistance by the Palestinian people to end its military incursion into Lebanon in 2006, and it must be forced to get out of Palestine now", said Bainbridge.

In Canberra, Australians for a Just Peace in Palestine have organised an emergency action on March 12 against the Rudd government's recognition motion, and in Melbourne a protest organised by the Melbourne Palestine Solidarity Network will be held at 12.30pm at the Old GPO in the Burke Street Mall.