GREENS leader Richard Di Natale has been slammed as “disingenuous” by Australia’s Jewish roof body after suggesting that Australia should refrain from signing defence agreements with Israel because of settlements.
During Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Israel last week, he and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defence industry cooperation.
The two countries will now hold annual discussions on strategic and security priorities, and also share experiences and expertise in aviation security and the protection of crowded places.
Last week, Di Natale tweeted, “Did the PM raise concerns re Israel’s settlement building? We shouldn’t sign defence MOUs while Netanyahu blatantly flouts international law.”
In response, Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Anton Block said Di Natale’s statement “demonstrates why politicians should spend less time tweeting and more time familiarising themselves with complex areas of policy”.
“To fetishise the settlements issue while ignoring far graver matters such as the wilful killing of civilians by Palestinian terrorist groups, the payment of salaries to terrorists by the Palestinian Authority and the use of child soldiers by Hamas is disingenuous and does nothing to advance the cause of peace,” Block said.
He added, Di Natale “misses the crucial point” that Australians are the primary beneficiaries of close defence ties with Israel, “whether it be through the supply of body armour to protect our soldiers or the latest cybersecurity technology to protect our data, and intelligence to keep all Australians safe from terror”.
“It is immensely disappointing that the Greens’ leader feels the need to pander to his party’s hard-left faction, whose ideological obsessions are so remote from the thinking of most Australians,” Block said.
Meanwhile, Greens senator Lee Rhiannon also chimed in, stating that the “dark history” that followed the Battle of Beersheba has been “largely swept under – from the massacre by Anzac soldiers in Surafend that went unpunished a year after the charge to the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of the land by the Israeli army 30 years after that”.
Block commented, “The Greens will never be anything other than a minor party until it frees itself from the dead hand of its discredited ideas.”
Di Natale did not respond to The AJN’s request for comment before it went to press.