Australia Labor Party Approves Motion Calling on MPs to Visit Both Israel, Palestinian Territories

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A pro-Gaza rally in Sydney, Australia, July 20, 2014. Credit: Reuters

A state convention of Australia's Labor party approved a motion on Sunday encouraging party members to spend time in both Israel and Palestinian areas when visiting the region, the Australian Jewish News reported

The resolution adopted by the New South Wales Labor convention was being welcomed by at least some advocates of Israel in Australia, coming as it did after an effort within the party to ban parliament members from Australia's Labor party from accepting subsidized trips to Israel. New South Wales, where Sydney is located, is Australia's most populous state. On a national level, the party has been in opposition since its loss in elections in 2013.  

Reacting to the resolution, New South Wales Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak told the Australian Jewish News the resolution that passed was a "sensible outcome" that “rejects the anti-Israel bias and discrimination” that had been pushed by a few party members. “When organizing our study missions to the region, we always encourage members to visit both the Palestinian territories and Israel in order to get a thorough understanding of the reality on the ground,” Spinak said.

For his part, the CEO of the Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier this month: “We have been running these trips for 25 years and they always include a visit to the West Bank, where the politicians are briefed by high-ranking Palestinian officials. We also take them to refugee camps. This ensures the integrity of the programs. The motion to ban politicians does not make sense. There should be more trips rather than less. The tours give participants an opportunity to assess the situation in the region for themselves.”

With reporting from JTA.