News World Shorten steps in to quell Labor division on Israel

Shorten steps in to quell Labor division on Israel

MELISSa Parke stands by claims
Former Labor MP for the federal seat of Fremantle, Melissa Parke at a protest in 2018. Photo: AAP
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Bill Shorten has been forced to step in to defuse a growing split within Labor ranks over Palestine, stressing that Labor supports a two-state solution and Israel could work with both sides of politics.

The New Daily revealed on Monday that dumped Labor candidate Melissa Parke is standing by her claim that a Palestinian woman was forced to drink bleach, after it emerged the incident was reported at the time by Reuters.

It has now been revealed that Western Australian Labor MP Josh Wilson was recorded at an event suggesting Israeli checkpoints were a place that Palestinians “went to die”. That meeting was also attended by Labor senator Sue Lines.

“Firstly, Mr Wilson and Senator Lines have re-confirmed this morning they support Labor Party policy,” Mr Shorten said on Monday.

“For the sake of clarity, the Israeli ambassador … said they could work with both sides of politics.

“Labor Party policy is very clear, and all my candidates have signed up … We support a two-state solution and the aspirations of the Palestinian people for statehood.”

In a statement, Mr Wilson said he supported Labor’s policy.

“I support Labor’s policy of a two-state solution, which recognises the right of Israel and Palestine to exist within secure and recognised borders,” he said.

“I have always supported peace and stability for the people of Israel and Palestine through meaningful progress towards such an outcome.

“Middle East politics is an issue many people have views about but Labor policy is clear and I fully support the policy.”

Labor MP Michael Danby said it was a case of “good riddance” to Ms Parke after revelations of her “vivid concoction”.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s Peter Wertheim told The New Daily on Sunday night that the revelations did not alter Ms Parke’s support for a boycott of Israel, which was at odds with Labor policy.

“Ms Parke’s allegation that an Israeli soldier in 2003 forced a Palestinian woman at a checkpoint to drink bleach omitted critical facts and context, which exonerated the Israeli soldier,” he said.

“The woman was not forced to drink the bleach at all. She was trying to smuggle it in to Israel possibly for use in bomb-making, and drank it in a failed attempt to fool the Israeli guards into believing her claim that it was water.

“But it was Ms Parke’s support for a boycott of Israel, not her selectivity with the facts, that was the reason we gave for objecting to her pre-selection.

“As United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently stated, modern anti-Semitism often expresses itself ‘in attempts to delegitimise the right of Israel to exist, including calls for its destruction’.

Mr Danby also said on Sunday his views had not changed over the airing of such inflammatory claims.

“I think it is a concoction to say that someone deliberately knew it was bleach and told someone to drink bleach,” Mr Danby said.

Ms Parke, a former minister in the Rudd government, resigned shortly after she was contacted about the “bleach” claims by media on Friday night. She was running in the blue-ribbon Perth seat of Curtin, which was previously held by Julie Bishop.

But she is standing by the bleach claims, which she maintains came across her desk when she was working in the region at the time as a human rights lawyer.

“I have always told the truth in my political career and I will let the evidence in this matter speak for itself,” Ms Parke told The New Daily.

Ms Parke also reportedly told a meeting of WA Labor for Palestine Israel­’s settlements were akin to China’s activity in the South China Sea and claimed the bleach the woman was forced to drink “burned out her throat and insides”.

When she resigned as the candidate for Curtin, Ms Parke released a statement in which she said: “My views are well known, but I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor government. That’s why I have decided to withdraw my candidacy.”

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