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Sharma unleashes on Greens ‘demonising’ of Israel

Dave Sharma has taken aim at the Greens, a day after winning the vote to fill a Liberal Senate vacancy.

Dave Sharma has taken aim at the Greens, a day after winning the vote to fill a Liberal Senate vacancy.

The Greens have a blind spot on anti-Semitism and are “demonising the state of Israel” in its conflict with Hamas, incoming Liberal Senate pick Dave Sharma says.

Sharma, who was ousted as the Liberal member for Wentworth at last year’s federal election, criticised the Greens for “demonising the state of Israel” and “holding it to a different standard of account”.

“If you are calling for the destruction of a member state of the United Nations, and denying the Jewish people a right to their homeland and a state that is accepted by the United Nations, yes, I consider that to be anti-Semitism,” he told ABC’s RN on Monday.

Sharma was picked on Sunday to replace outgoing Liberal senator Marise Payne. He defeated former NSW treasurer Andrew Constance 251-206 in the final selection ballot, in a field that also included former ACT senator Zed Seselja.

On Monday, Sharma, who is a former ambassador to Israel, singled out Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi for criticism. Late last week, she shared to social media a photo of herself with student protesters with a poster depicting the Israeli state being thrown into a rubbish bin.

Faruqi has since deleted the post.

“People can and should be allowed to advocate for Palestinian self-determination and Palestinian national rights,” Sharma said.

“But it should not be a zero-sum proposition.

“Too often we see these protests think that to be pro-Palestinian, you need to be anti-Israel, or more critically anti-Jewish people in Australia, and I think that’s where we’ve seen lines crossed many times.”

Greens Leader Adam Bandt said the offensive poster depicted in the photo was not seen before it was uploaded online.

“There was an apology made, and the apology was made promptly and clearly and unreservedly and I think that was the right thing to do,” he said.

Bandt rejected there was anti-Semitism within the Greens.

“Since the attacks on October 7, which we condemned … condemning anti-Semitism, as well as Islamophobia,” he said.

“But we’ve taken a principled position to this invasion and we do not believe that the people of Gaza should be collectively punished and we’re seeing a humanitarian catastrophe unfold in front of our eyes.”

Bandt said it was unfair to accuse his party of ignoring alleged war crimes being committed by Hamas within the Gaza strip.

“From day one, we’ve condemned the taking of the hostages,” he said.

“That’s a war crime, attacks on civilians are a war crime and we’ve called for the unconditional release of the hostages.”

Dutton pick misses out

Sharma won Sunday’s vote, despite Constance being considered the favourite to replace Payne in the Senate.

Constance had the backing of Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.

But Liberal moderates backed Sharma, who lost Wentworth to teal independent Allegra Spender in 2022.

Sharma said he had a good relationship with Dutton, despite not being his top pick.

“I have always had when I was in parliament, and since I’ve left as well,” he told ABC’s RN.

“I’ve got absolutely no problems working with him and with other members of the Liberal parliamentary team.”

He said taking over from Payne, a former foreign minister, was a privilege.

“The opportunity to serve in the Senate will allow me to fight for our nation’s national security interests in a time of greater global turmoil,” he said.

Dutton said Sharma’s entry to the Senate would come at a crucial time.

“His diplomatic and foreign policy expertise will lend considerable weight and wisdom to the public policy debate given the precarious circumstances in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said Sharma was a fitting replacement for Payne.

Seselja, who was also passed over in Sunday’s vote, is a staunch conservative who hails from the Liberals’ right faction.

He lost his Senate spot to independent David Pocock at the last election, leaving the ACT without Liberal representation for the first time since the territory started with two senators in 1975.

-with AAP

Topics: Dave Sharma
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