Fraser, Leibler spar over Hamas


An Australian Jewish leader and a former prime minister are squabbling over negotiating with Hamas.

In an article in The Age newspaper in Melbourne last week, former Liberal member of Parliament Malcolm Fraser said the failure to negotiate with Hamas was “perhaps the major mistake of the Bush administration” and argued that it has “made many parts of the world more dangerous.”

In response Mark Leibler, the national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, accused Fraser of “contradictions, factual errors and naivete.”

In Saturday’s newspaper Leibler, who is also the world chair of the board of trustees of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, said the former prime minister was wrong in arguing that negotiating with Hamas would provide it with an alternative to violence.

“An alternative offering a seat at the diplomatic table has long been available but rejected by Hamas leaders,” Leibler wrote. He also described Fraser’s comparison with Northern Ireland as “nonsensical.”

“The IRA never sought to destroy Britain, as Hamas explicitly does Israel, and forswore terrorism for a place in negotiations,” Leibler wrote.

Asked for his response, Fraser chided Leibler, telling The Age, “When the [Israel] lobby runs out of arguments, they attack the person.”

“It is time Israel and America learnt that if a country has confidence in itself, in the justice of its objectives, talking with people involves no risk. Failure to talk represents lack of confidence, lack of conviction and a weakness that can have tragic consequences.”

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