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Calls for Israeli diplomat to be expelled

Written by on May 10, 2024

The Greens have called on the government to urgently expel the Israeli ambassador until the country cooperates with the International Court of Justice’s orders to prevent genocide, amid growing fears of a devastating invasion in southern Gaza.

Anthony Albanese has directly written to Israel to convey Australia’s grave humanitarian concerns about the planned offensive in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians are sheltering.

But Greens leader Adam Bandt wants Labor to go a step further, saying the government’s “inexcusable cowardice” cannot continue and must take action against Israel’s senior diplomat in Canberra, Amir Maimon.

“Enough is enough. With Benjamin Netanyahu defying the world community, Australia must send the signal that having zero regard for civilian lives and international law has consequences,” Mr Bandt said.

“The Prime Minister must expel the Israeli ambassador while their government breaks international law and ignores the international community.

“Australia has a legal responsibility to make Israel comply with international law, including by taking steps like expelling the ambassador.”

Israeli forces have this week seized the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, closing the flow of humanitarian aid with no transparency over when, or if, the gate would be reopened.

Rafah was previously designated a safe zone for civilians by Israeli forces.

The United States is so concerned by the latest actions it has paused a shipment of weapons to Israel, with President Joe Biden declaring if Israel were to go ahead in Rafah: “I’m not supplying the weapons”.

Mr Bandt said the expulsion of ambassador Mr Maimon should continue until Israel fully abides by the International Court of Justice’s orders in facilitating the unrestricted flow of aid, and ceasing a war that could later be found to constitute genocide.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister said he had written to the Israeli government to reassert Australia’s grave concerns about civilians trapped in Rafah.

“(These civilians) were told to move from the northern part of Gaza, they were told to move south. You then have a very crowded population, and you also have a crowded population that it’s not clear where they are supposed to go given the destruction that’s occurred to housing in other parts of Gaza,” he said.

“We are very concerned about that.

“And my government’s position is very clear … we support a two-state solution … That is what is required.”

Greens’ foreign affair spokesman Jordon Steele-John said Israel had crossed “every diplomatic red line imaginable” and must be appropriately sanctioned.

“We cannot only claim an international rules-based order when it suits us. The violation of human rights and perpetrators of war crimes must be called out whenever they occur and whoever they may be,” he said.

“The State of Israel’s use of collective punishment, the use of dehydration and starvation as weapons of war and the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets are clear violations of international law and Australia has no choice but to expel the State of Israel Ambassador.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations will this weekend vote on whether or not to grant Palestine full membership.

Mr Albanese has remained tight lipped on how Australia might vote, but the Executive Council of Australian Jewry wrote to Senator Wong on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming vote of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), warning “acts of mass terrorism” should not be rewarded.