Former Prime Ministers Join in Condemning Hamas and Call on Israel to Protect the Lives of Civilians
All living former prime ministers of Australia, except Paul Keating, have joined together to express their support for Israel and solidarity with Australian Jews in a rare statement signed by former leaders of both major political parties.
Key points: Four former prime ministers from the Liberal Party and two from the Labor Party have united to condemn Hamas. Former leaders also called on Israel to avoid civilian casualties in retaliatory actions. They stated that nothing can justify inciting hatred towards any Australian community. A joint statement by Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, and John Howard also called on Hamas to release hostages taken in attacks on October 7 and urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties and support humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.
Former prime ministers urged Australians to treat each other with love and respect.
"If our hearts are filled with hatred, we will do the work of terrorists," the statement said.
"No complaint or concern about international affairs justifies inciting hatred towards any Australian or any Australian community.
"We believe we speak on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Australians of all faiths and none when we say we stand in solidarity with Australian Jews at this time.
"Likewise, we support the Australian Palestinian community, whose families are dying and suffering in this terrible conflict."
Former Prime Ministers Warn Israel Against Killing Civilians Former leaders expressed their condemnation of Hamas, stating that it seeks to provoke Israel and is "no more interested in the safety of Palestinians than in the safety of Israelis."
However, they said that in response, Israel must keep its promise to avoid civilian casualties.
"On the battlefield in Israel and Gaza, we do not presume to give Israel strategic advice.
"But the legitimate objective of defeating Hamas must be accompanied by support for and protection of the civilian population of Gaza. Israel promises to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, and we call on it to do so with all humanity and skill.
"We are appalled by the thousands of deaths and injuries inflicted on innocent Palestinian civilians, including many Palestinian children."
Contentious Issue Requiring a Response In this war between Israel and Hamas, we find ourselves in uncharted territory. The number of civilian casualties has risen rapidly, but Western leaders are not directly calling for a ceasefire, writes John Lyons.
According to Keating's statement, the letter was prepared by lawyer and political activist Mark Leibler.
Yesterday, Keating released a statement saying that he would not sign a letter "drafted" by the Zionist Federation of Australia.
The letter comes as Israeli forces launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli war against Hamas intensified.
Israeli airstrikes targeted the Gaza Strip during a weeks-long campaign, resulting in the reported deaths of over 8,000 Palestinians, following reports of 1,400 Israelis killed in a sudden Hamas attack on October 7.
The United Nations has called on Israel and Hamas to agree to a "humanitarian pause" to allow assistance into the blocked Gaza Strip.
In a statement released by the Zionist Federation of Australia, the association's president, Jeremy Leibler, said the statement demonstrated that "Australia is a country that produces leaders of moral principle."
"The fact that former prime ministers representing both major political parties have united to condemn Hamas and its terrorist campaign and support Israel's right to self-defense transcends politics," the statement said.
The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network expressed concern that the group of prime ministers had "allowed themselves" to be used by the pro-Israel lobby.
"The reference in the statement to 'Australian values of love and respect' rings hollow, given that former prime ministers have failed to acknowledge the tens of thousands of Australians expressing horror at Israel's conduct and ignored the suffering currently being experienced by many thousands of Palestinian Australians," the human rights group said.
"The prime ministers have failed in their duty as citizens of states party to the Geneva Conventions to equally support international law. Their significant platform should have been used to reiterate the United Nations' calls for an immediate ceasefire."