NSW Labor Party group set up to restore balanced debate on Israel
A new group has been set up within the NSW Labor Party to restore balance in the party on Israel and the Middle East.
The NSW Labor Israel Action Committee held its formation meeting on December 1 and it was drew 62 financial members.
On December 9, it was granted a “charter” by the powerful ALP NSW Administrative Committee.
The Labor Israel Action Committee, which was formed in Sydney, aims to promote “continuing friendship with Israel and further exchange in areas such as science, technology, environment, commerce and culture”, and to promote the “fraternal relationship between the ALP and the Israeli Labor Party”.
It also aims to promote “friendship and understanding with the Australian Jewish community”, and to support and promote the ALP’s “consistent and long-standing policy for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
The group is headed up by state co-patrons NSW Shadow Health Minister and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Council, Walt Secord and Heffron MP Ron Hoenig, and federal co-patrons Federal MP for Eden-Monaro Dr Mike Kelly and Federal Senator Deb O’Neill.
The inaugural meeting was addressed by Jeremy Jones from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, who was the founding Secretary of Labor Friends of Israel, and those who attended included former Senator Michael Forshaw, Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue’s Greg Holland, former MP for Lowe Mary Easson and former NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal.
Mr Secord, who is also deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel spoke at the first meeting, where he stated that at a recent party conference, there were more than 30 motions on Israel.
“In my view, the discussion within the ALP lacks balance. And that is why it is vital that we set up tonight’s group,” he said.
“This group is about taking steps towards and restoring balance in the Labor Party on Israel and the Middle East. It is important that we have a reasoned debate.”
“This has to be mindful of Labor’s historical support for Israel and justice for the Palestinian people through a negotiated settlement.”
“Once again, a two-State solution is the official and long-held ALP position,” Mr Secord said.
The NSW Labor Israel Action Group has four main aims. They are to:
· Promote continuing friendship with Israel and further exchange in areas such as science, technology, environment, commerce and culture;
· Promote the fraternal relationship between the ALP and the Israeli Labor Party;
· Promote the friendship and understanding with the Australian Jewish community; and
· Support and promote the ALP’s consistent and long-standing policy for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Similar bodies include Chinese Friends of Labor; Vietnamese Friends of Labor; Irish Friends of Labor; Arabic Friends of Labor; Sub-Continent Friends of Labor; Labor Action for Multiculturalism; Macedonian Friends of Labor; and Filipino Labor Council.
The NSW Labor Israel Action Committee plans to meet again in early February.