SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – An Australian legislature passed a bill demanding the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Liberal MP Chris Hartcher proposed the bipartisan motion in the New South Wales legislature in Sydney on Thursday, telling lawmakers that by denying Shalit human rights for more than three years, “Hamas denies itself moral legitimacy to make any argument on humanitarian grounds for itself or the people whom it claims to represent.”
Hartcher and fellow Liberal MP Anthony Roberts said they were prompted to propose the motion after watching the film “The Case for Israel,” based on the book by Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz.
The motion, the first of its kind in an Australian state or federal legislature, condemns Hamas for its “inhumane treatment” of Shalit and calls upon it to immediately allow Red Cross access.
John Aquilina, supporting the motion on behalf of the Labor government, said, “This is an important motion. It is not a motion about international conflict or world international affairs; it is a motion which every one of us, as members of a concerned community, have a responsibility to support, because it is about the welfare of a fellow human being.”
The CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, who was among a Jewish delegation present in the legislature, applauded the measure.
Hartcher said he is writing to Liberal MPs in other state legislatures urging them to propose similar motions.