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Indigenous MPs join calls for ceasefire in Gaza

Jarred Cross -

A number of Indigenous parliamentarians have joined more than 50 elected representatives issuing a joint statement calling on the Australian government to: push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages; recognise Palestine as a state entitled to be free of occupation; and "examine" its relationship with the State of Israel.

Signatories of the letter, released on Tuesday, include current and former members of Parliament at the state and federal level as well as local government councillors around the country.

Indigenous politicians Senator Lidia Thorpe, Senator Dorinda Cox and NSW MP Lynda Votlz are among those who joined the call.

The statement declared "all states have an obligation to contribute to upholding international law, including human rights, international humanitarian law and the other universally accepted norms of the international legal system" and that "for too long the human rights of the Palestinian people have been grossly violated".

"We note Australia is a state party to the International Criminal Court and bound by its statute which makes criminal the gravest international crimes," it read.

It is estimated that more than 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza in Israeli air strikes and other actions since Hamas launched raids on 7 October, killing more than 600 Israeli civilians and around 400 military personnel, and taking a number of hostages, some of whom have since been released.

The escalation of violence is only the most recent in a decades-long conflict. Gaza and the West Bank are recognised as Palestinian territory under international law and the 1948 armistice line, but the West Bank is currently the site of hundreds of Israeli settlements and Gaza has been under an effective Israeli blockade since 2006.

A range of international agencies, and people within Gaza, have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in the territory because of a dire shortage of food, clean water and medical supplies.

The 14-point statement ended with a call for the Australian government to "publicly advocate" for a ceasefire, continue calls for the release of all hostages, urge all parties to comply with international standards, recognise Palestine as a state entitled to be free of occupation, and to "examine" its relationship with the State of Israel.

Last week, Australia shifted its position to vote in favour of a ceasefire at the UN general assembly in concert with over 150 nations.

Senator Thorpe said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has at present, done "the bare minimum".

"Today, Labor politicians across the country have broken ranks with Prime Minister Albanese to condemn the Israeli government's genocidal bombardment of Gaza," she said.

Greens MPs at all levels and past and present Labor MPs made up the bulk of signatories.

"Anthony Albanese has done the bare minimum to support a ceasefire. Now is the time for the government to use every tool at its disposal to support an immediate, permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation," Senator Thorpe said.

"The Albanese Government must pull every lever they can by implementing arms embargoes on all warring parties, evacuating Australian citizens and visa holders to safety, and engaging with the international community to support a path to real and lasting peace."

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