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Labour MP Defies Party Lines, Urges Prime Minister to Support Palestine

Fatima Payman, a Labor senator from Western Australia, has diverged from her party’s stance by urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to label Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip as genocide. Payman, the first Afghan-Australian Muslim woman in Parliament, made her statement on May 15, also known as Nakba Day—the day commemorating the displacement of Palestinians during the creation of Israel in 1948.

Senator Payman emphasized the need to acknowledge the truth, stating, “This is a genocide, and we need to stop pretending otherwise.” She challenged the government and fellow parliamentarians, questioning how many international laws Israel must violate before action is taken.

Despite Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza in response to attacks by Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, and casualties on both sides, Israel rejects the term genocide. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, however, has deemed Israel’s military campaign as such.

Senator Payman called for support for sanctions, divestment, a permanent ceasefire, and the recognition of a Palestinian state, concluding with a reminder that “Palestine will be free.” Her statements contradict Prime Minister Albanese’s recent remarks criticizing the phrase “from the river to the sea” as it goes against a two-state solution.

In response to calls for government action, Mr. Albanese reiterated support for a two-state solution while emphasizing Australia’s role in advocating for humanitarian concerns and the importance of valuing all innocent lives, regardless of nationality.

As debates and advocacy continue in Parliament, protesters have gathered to demand more support for Gaza and an end to the Israeli occupation. One Nation senator Pauline Hanson defended Israel, highlighting the historical persecution faced by Jewish people and the need for a nuanced understanding of the complex issues at play.

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