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Former prime ministers unite to sign statement on the Israel-Hamas conflict

Israel vows to expand operations in Gaza

All of Australia’s living, former prime ministers – with the exception of Paul Keating – have co-signed a joint statement on the Israel-Hamas war.

Monday’s statement, signed by John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, condemns the October 7 terror attack on Israel and calls for the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas.

The statement also calls for sustained humanitarian access for Palestinians in Gaza.

“We believe we speak for the vast majority of Australians, of all faiths and of none, when we say we stand in solidarity with Jewish Australians at this time,” the former prime ministers said.

“Likewise, we stand too with the Australian Palestinian community whose families are dying and suffering in this terrible conflict.”

The six former Australian leaders said while they did not “presume to give strategic advice to Israel” on the battlefield, “the legitimate objective of defeating Hamas must be accompanied by support and protection for the civilian population of Gaza”.

“Israel promises it will do all it can to avoid civilian casualties, we urge it to do so with all of its humanity and skill,” the statement said.

The former prime ministers also endorsed a two-state solution “as the basis for long-term lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples”.

“At this time, more than ever, we must, in the words of the 34th Psalm ‘seek peace and pursue it’,” the statement said.

“Here at home, that is done by defending our Australian values, condemning hate speech and intolerance and respecting the people of Australia in all our diversity.”

In a statement on Sunday, Keating said he was contacted by chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, Mark Leibler, proposing the joint statement and asking for his agreement and signature.

“I told Leibler in a written message that I would not be agreeing to join other former prime ministers in authorising the statement,” Keating said, adding, “That remains my position.”

The six former prime ministers claimed Hamas sought to provoke Israel into a reaction that would kill countless innocent civilians in Gaza.

“They also sought to provoke Israel into a reaction that would kill countless innocent civilians in Gaza. The Hamas terrorists have no more interest in the safety of Palestinians than they do of Israelis,” the said.

The group endorsed the Australian government’s support for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, stating it would be “the basis for long-term lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples”.

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