Calls it 'genocide’

Labor Senator Fatima Payman breaks ranks on Gaza

Senate votes 56 – 12 to condemn the use of the phrase 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free'

Government, Opposition and Independent senators vote on a motion on anti-semitism in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Government, Opposition and Independent senators vote on a motion on anti-semitism in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Federal Labor MP Fatima Payman has labelled Israel’s actions against Hamas in Gaza a genocide.

The hijab wearing Muslim Senator from Western Australia, who was born in Afghanistan, told journalists on Wednesday, “Instead of advocating for justice, I see our leaders performatively gesture defending the oppressor’s right to oppress, while gaslighting the global community about the rights of self-defence. My conscience has been uneasy for far too long and I must call this out for what it is.”

She ended her remarks by repeating the slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be a free”, a call for the destruction of Israel.

Payman was subsequently criticised by her own Prime Minister, with Anthony Albanese saying it’s not appropriate for her to use the slogan.

He said, “What’s appropriate is a two-state solution, where both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in security, in peace and in prosperity. It is not in the interests of either Israelis or Palestinians to advocate there just be one state.”

Labor Senator Fatima Payman in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Other senior Labor people are reportedly also distancing themselves from her remarks.

Paymans’ comments come as the federal Senate voted 56 – 12 to condemn the use of the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Labor supported a Coalition motion which stated that the slogan opposes Israel’s right to exist and is used by people who seek to intimidate Jewish Australians.

The Greens and independent Victorian Senator Lydia Thorpe voted against the motion.  Senator Payman was not in the chamber for the vote.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin welcomed the Senate motion.

“The Greens stand in shame but that’s nothing new. But it is sad that motions setting the record straight on racist, annihilationist and violent slogans are even needed,” he said.

Ryvchin said those who chant ‘From the river, to the sea’ are the enemies of peace.

“How do they propose to establish an Arab Palestinian state from the river to the sea? Only through more war, more misery and suffering,” he said.

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson believes Senator Payman’s use of the slogan constitutes a very serious test of the Prime Minister’s leadership.

“Senator Payman has repeated a phrase and endorsed a phrase that the Prime Minister has said is a violent statement that has no place in our country. In doing so, she has outed herself as an opponent to a two-state solution and peace in the Middle East, and demonstrated she’s an advocate of a one-state solution,” Paterson said.

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