Australian ex-PM: Netanyahu ‘torpedoing’ Middle East peace plans

Canberra, Feb 23 (IANS) Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has accused Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu of “torpedoing” peace negotiations in the Middle East.

The first Israeli PM to visit Australia, Netanyahu had earlier criticised Rudd and another former Labour Prime Minister Bob Hawke for saying that Australia should recognise a Palestinian state, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Thursday.

Netanyahu had dismissed the remarks by both leaders, saying: “What kind of state will it be that they are advocating? A state that calls for Israel’s destruction?”

Rudd took to Facebook on Wednesday to respond to Netanyahu, and said the Israeli leader sabotaged US peace talks “by changing the goalposts” often at “five minutes to midnight”.

“The boundaries, internal security, external security, public finance and governance of a Palestinian state have been elaborated in detail in multiple negotiations with the US under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, most recently in the Kerry Plan. Netanyahu knows these formulations like the back of his hand,” Rudd said.

Rudd said he was a life-long supporter of Israel and had publicly campaigned against anti-Semitism. But he added that “to support the state of Israel does not mandate automatic support for each and every policy of Netanyahu”.

The Israeli leader is in the middle of a four-day visit to Australia, with current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as his host.

Turnbull called Israel a “miraculous nation” in a warm meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday. The Israeli leader thanked Australia for defending his nation against UN resolutions.

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Thursday rejected the suggestion that Australia follow over 130 countries that recognise Palestinian statehood, instead she urged direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in order to reach a two-state solution with “internationally recognised boundaries”, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

–IANS

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