Obama defends Israel's right to defend itself
US President Barack Obama defends Israel's airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, but he warns that escalating the offensive could deepen the death toll and undermine any hope of peace with the Palestinians.PT1M54S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29krw 620 349 November 19, 2012
VICTORIAN politicians have weighed into the escalating conflict in the Middle East, telling more than 1000 protesters that Israel must respond to rocket attacks from Gaza.
Federal Labor MP Mark Dreyfus told a pro-Israel rally in Caulfield South on Sunday that Israel had every right to defend itself.
''Imagine if any part of Australia was under attack in the way Israel has been under constant attack from Gaza now for years and years … Of course Australia would respond. So too must Israel respond,'' he said.
Code red: Anti-rocket, red-clad protesters make their point at a Caulfield South rally. Photo: Eddie Jim
The peaceful rally in Princes Park came as Israeli air strikes killed at least 16 Palestinians in Gaza on Saturday in retaliation to Hamas rocket attacks.
Mr Dreyfus read a statement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday, which was met with applause by the crowd, some dressed head to toe in red, waving Israeli flags and holding ''Stop The Rockets'' signs.
''The government condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and calls on Hamas to cease these immediately,'' the statement said.
Mr Dreyfus said: ''Australia supports Israel's right to defend itself against these indiscriminate attacks.''
He urged demonstrators to tell their friends and colleagues there was no justification for the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel.
Victorian Liberal MP David Southwick, who on Friday apologised for making false claims he was an ''adjunct professor'' at RMIT and had a graduate diploma from Monash University, said a ''genuine'' two-state solution based on negotiations was the only resolution.
''This is a difficult time but we have faith that Israel, as it has for almost 65 years, will continue to stand up for its people and values. There have been too many lives lost,'' he said.
Mr Southwick justified Israel's assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari. ''These continual attacks by Hamas is why Israel acted to remove the threat of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari. No country would allow such acts of aggression to go on,'' he said.
Mr Southwick criticised pro-Palestinian demonstrators who held a rally in Melbourne's CBD on Saturday.
''While we are conducting this rally in peace we see many Palestinian students, friends of Palestine students, closing down the streets in Swanston Street, having rallies that do nothing to support peace.''
Victorian Liberal senator Scott Ryan said Israelis simply wanted to live in peace. ''Every citizen of every nation has the right to expect they can live in peace and every government has a duty to defend that. In Australia we would tolerate no less,'' he said.
Hamas was intent on ''killing its own people and threatening its neighbours''.
Zionist Federation of Australia president Philip Chester said Israel had been subjected to 1200 rockets in 12 years.
''We believe in the right of our people to a peaceful and secure state in our eternal homeland, not at the expense of Palestinians, but rather in peaceful coexistence with them,'' he said.
Israel's ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem, said Israel would do everything it could to protect its citizens. ''In one hand we will hold the sword, where it is necessary, to defend ourselves, but in the other hand, we will never let go of the olive branch and will keep this hand extended to those who one day would like peace with us.''