Australia marks Israel's 60th year

Parliament holds special session, with PM pledging commitment to the Jewish state's security.

kevin rudd 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
kevin rudd 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Australian parliament commemorated Israel's 60 years of independence Wednesday, and leaders pledged their commitment to the country's security and stated their "respect for the Israeli cause," Australia's The Age reported. The motion was put forward by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and seconded by Opposition leader Brendan Nelson. Rudd said he remained committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "We firmly believe the establishment of an independent and economically-viable Palestinian state must remain a key objective of the Israeli peace process," he said. "This is important for the future ... just as our objective must be for Israel to exist within secure and internationally-recognized boundaries." Nelson said the holocaust served as a reminder of the freedoms Israelis had fought for. "To any Australian who has not done so already and who has the privilege and the opportunity to visit Washington, I urge you to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum," he said. "There are piles of shoes that were worn by Jews exterminated, photographs of men and women and children looking out into lives that were never lived, and many other things to remind us of why our relationship with Israel and our respect for the Israeli cause and the two-state solution is so important to our own beliefs, our own values and ultimately our own freedoms and security." The motion was met with some protests: One Labor MP as well as two powerful unions were opposed, and during the session a woman was escorted out of the public gallery after calling out "What about the UN resolution?" during Rudd's speech. In addition, several individuals and organizations sponsored an advertisement in one of the nation's newspapers Wednesday morning title "Not In Our Name." "Australia and Australians should not give the Israeli people and its leaders the impression that Australia supports them in their dispossession of the Palestinian people," the ad said. At a gathering hosted by the Israeli embassy later in the day, Rudd thanked Nelson for his support in the motion. "It's good as a nation that we speak as one on something like this," he said.