It is understood Melissa Parke withdrew her candidacy after reports she told a group of pro-Palestinian activists last month that Australia should recognise a Palestinian state and that Israel’s settlements were akin to China’s island building activity in the South China Sea.
In the speech she also took aim at Israel’s influence in Australian politics and said there was no doubt Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, while illegal under international law, were “a reaction to and a consequence of decades of brutal occupation”.
Despite claiming she supported current Labor policy on Israel and Palestine earlier this week, on Friday night Ms Parke said she would quit the race so her views wouldn’t be a distraction.
“I’ve had 20 years experience in international relations and law including living and working in the Middle East,” she said
“My views are well known.
“But I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor Government, which will take urgent and strong action on climate change.
“That’s why I have decided to withdraw my candidacy.
“I look forward to working and supporting the party in other ways.”
The remarks have been widely circulated throughout Jewish communities on the east coast and it is understood Victorian Labor are particularly concerned about the seat of Mcnamara, which has a large number of Jewish voters and which will be vacated by retiring MP Michael Danby.
“There are already 137 nations that recognise the state of Palestine, that is more than 70 per cent of the world,” she said to a meeting of the WA Labor Friends of Labor in March.
“And, inshallah [Arabic for ‘God willing’], Australia will join that consensus once we have a Federal Labor government.
“It’s also time finally for Australia to support an end to the brutal occupation of Palestine and for the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.”
Ms Parke, a former lawyer for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Gaza, said Australia had to break away from its “strategic dependence” on the United States and recognise Palestine as a state, which is contrary to Labor policy.
Labor had been looking to draw Liberal resources to the seat of Curtin in WA after the retirement of the former foreign minister.
Actually, as bad as this is, for some reason, the Sydney Morning Herald have completely omitted her worst comments!
Melissa Parke, Labor’s star WA candidate, sensationally quit tonight after being slammed by outraged Jewish community groups over her claim Israeli officials at a checkpoint in Gaza forced a pregnant Palestinian woman to drink a bottle of bleach.
The ex-Rudd government minister, who was standing for former foreign minister Julie Bishop’s Curtin seat, quit hours after questions were submitted to Labor’s campaign HQ over her statement by the Herald Sun newspaper.
Ms Parke had told a public meeting last month that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was “worse than the South African system of apartheid”.
Ms Parke told the inaugural meeting of the WA Labor for Palestine group she could “remember vividly” the case of “a pregnant refugee woman (who) was ordered at a checkpoint in Gaza to drink a bottle of bleach”.
Ms Parke claimed the bleach “burned out her throat and insides, fortunately her baby was saved”.
Ms Parke’s speech was described by Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein as “nothing more than a laundry list of slanders, including discredited conspiracy theories and downright falsification”.
“We have seen in other countries what happens when political parties turn a blind eye towards fanatics and conspiracy theorists in their ranks. It is incumbent on the ALP leadership to ensure Australia does not follow the same route,” Mr Rubenstein said.
This is a former UNWRA lawyer disseminating a blood libel against Israel, spreading the antisemitic trope of Jewish influence on the political system, and justifying terrorism. Why am I not surprised? I am guessing from this and her “Inshallah” that she may have left Gaza, but Gaza hasn’t completely left her.