SYDNEY (Jul. 20)
The leaders of Australia’s Jewish community have lambasted a parliamentary report that accuses Israel of stalling the Middle East peace process.
The report, written by a delegation of the federal Parliament after it returned from a fact-finding mission to the Middle East, called for international pressure on Israel to accept a U.S. proposal under which Jerusalem would implement a further 13 percent redeployment in the West Bank.
The report also said that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was solely responsible for delays in implementing the Oslo accords. David Bar-Illan, Netanyahu’s spokesman, described the report as an “Arabian Nights rehash of PLO propaganda.”
The leading bodies of Australian Jewry — The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council — joined Bar-Illan in issuing immediate condemnations of the report.
Colin Rubenstein, the national policy chairman of the executive council, said in an interview, “The report is riddled with factual errors such as the claim that the Israeli army was larger than its Arab foes in 1948 and that Jerusalem’s unity is supported only by `some conservative members’ of the Israeli Government.”
“The report also excludes any mention of Hezbollah, Israelis killed or injured during the intifada and many other pertinent facts to understanding the current Middle East situation, while at the same time repeating verbatim criticisms of Israel made by Arab leaders,” he said.
Members of the delegation said they stand by the report.