Indigenous Australians form pro-Israel group
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Indigenous Australians form pro-Israel group

Spokesperson says he supports two-state solution, but warns recognizing a Palestinian state prematurely could disincentivize peace talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, walks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, right, upon their arrival at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 (Jason Reed/Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, walks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, right, upon their arrival at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 (Jason Reed/Pool Photo via AP)

SYDNEY — A group called Indigenous Friends of Israel was established by indigenous Australians in what organizers said was a bid to counter growing support in the country’s Labor party for recognition of a Palestinian state and to boost bipartisan support for Israel.

Spokesperson Munganbana Norman Miller said the national organization is concerned that the Labor Party is “going down a dangerous path” in its attempt to get individual states and then federal Labor endorsement of a Palestinian state while Palestinian leaders do not accept the right of Israel to exist and continue to support terrorism.

Miller spoke Thursday from the north Queensland city of Cairns, an area with high concentrations of indigenous Australians.

“I support a two-state solution and Israel has offered it in 1947, 2000, 2008 and 2014,” he said, “but Arab leadership including Yasser Arafat and current Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas have rejected it. Also, Hamas who are in control of Gaza have vowed to annihilate Israel and drive every Jew into the sea. It is a terrorist organization, recognized as such by the Australian and other governments,” he said.

“At this stage there is no viable Palestinian state until the governments of the West Bank and Gaza sort out their difficulties. Who will the Labor Party and possibly Labor in government recognize?”

Miller told JTA that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state is likely to further discourage the Palestinians from coming to the negotiating table, which he believes they have been reluctant to do.

A future Palestinian state, which could require land swaps to make it viable, “needs to recognize Israel as a Jewish state with secure borders and call off terrorism, including spending millions of overseas aid money on payments to the families of terrorists and promoting hatred of Jews [among] its schoolchildren,” he said.

“It is simply untrue to maintain that Israel is an apartheid state,” he added. “As Indigenous people, we know what apartheid is. Israel is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East and has Arab members of the Knesset and has Arabs living peacefully and working in all walks of life enjoying their democratic freedoms.”

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