Mid East policy a failure, rally told
July 22, 2006 04:54pm
THE deputy chairman of the Australian Arabic Council (AAC) has told a Melbourne rally against Israeli attacks on Lebanon that Australia's foreign policy is a failure.
Several hundred people turned out for the Rally for Peace and Justice in Lebanon which started outside the State Library in Swanston Street about 2pm (AEST).
The protest, organised by the Committee for Peace and Justice in Lebanon, Victorian Peace Network and AAC, called for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.
AAC deputy chairman Taimor Hazou, who was one of the speakers at the rally, said Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had failed to pressure for a ceasefire.
"The inability to pressure for a ceasefire is a perfect illustration of the failure of our Middle East policy," Mr Hazou said.
"Our influence is insignificant.
"Australia has done the bidding of Israel and the US, yet the impact and relevance of this relationship is negligible when it concerns Australians or Australian interests.
"The Government should support the United Nations and demand an immediate ceasefire."
Mr Hazou said Israel had responded to the kidnapping of soldiers in Gaza and southern Lebanon with a "disproportionate use of force".
"There should be no mistake that what Israel is doing amounts to collective punishment ... it is deliberately imposing suffering and infrastructural damage on civilians in both Gaza and Lebanon," Mr Hazou said.