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Bandt threatens to sue Dreyfus over Gaza allegations

The office of Deputy PM Richard Marles is among those to have been vandalised.

The office of Deputy PM Richard Marles is among those to have been vandalised. Photo: AAP

Greens leader Adam Bandt has threatened to sue Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus over allegations of defamatory comments in a heated debate about the war in Israel.

It comes after fiery debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday when Labor and the Coalition united to condemn the Greens for stoking tensions by supporting pro-Palestinian protesters, after a spate of vandalism at electorate offices.

Bandt said Dreyfus made defamatory comments about him relating to the protests in a media interview following question time.

“My lawyers have written to the Attorney-General regarding what I consider to be defamatory statements he made about me and the Greens yesterday,” he said on Thursday.

“I think that the first law officer of this country should not make utterly unfounded statements and spread misinformation. No politician should do that.

“I would prefer not to have to pursue these matters legally, and I hope the Attorney will respond in a proper way.”

During debate in Parliament, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Greens had been spreading misinformation about the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“It is unacceptable that misinformation has been consciously and deliberately spread by some Green senators and MPs who have engaged in this demonstration outside offices and online,” Albanese said.

“As political leaders, we have a responsibility to lower temperature, not to fuel division.”

Also on Wednesday, Albanese took aim at pro-Palestine supporters targeting the MPs’ electorate offices – including in his own in inner Sydney.

Albanese’s Grayndler office is one of several that have been blockaded by protesters in recent months, while there has been vandalism to others. The PM’s staff have reportedly been unable to work from the office since January.

Albanese said such protests, including harassing electorate staff, undermined the cause.

“Enough is enough. The time for senators and members of parliament to continue to inflame tension outside of these offices must end,” he said.

“The fact is that denying the people to seek out assistance achieves nothing and tragically undermines the cause protesters purport to advance.”

On Thursday, Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek also took aim at Bandt and the Greens.

“We’ve Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi standing outside Labor MPs’ offices encouraging the crowd to continue to blockade,” she told Sky News Australia.

“We’ve seen young Greens posting videos of the defacing of [Melbourne Labor MP] Peter Khalil’s billboard with ‘victory till revolution’ and ‘death to the ALP’.

“This is a party that has deliberately misrepresented the position of the government. They’ve said we’re selling weapons to Israel, but we’re not. They say that we support genocide, when plainly that is a completely offensive and distressing thing to say.”

Plibersek said political leaders had a responsibility to bring the community together to acknowledge the Hamas attacks were horrendous, and the civilian death toll in Gaza was shocking.

“I think most Australians agree with this position, that we want to see peace immediately. We want to see hostages released and humanitarian ceasefire and humanitarian access – that is the mainstream position,” she said.

“The Greens are not in the mainstream on this issue.”

Liberal MP Julian Leeser also spoke about rising levels of antisemitism in Australia on Thursday, following the October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas, which killed 1200 people and resulted in 200 people being taken hostage.

Israel’s counter-offensive has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians and injured more than 80,000 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Leeser said the government had not done enough to combat the issue.

“I am so sick and tired of this government, the Human Rights Commission, universities and other bodies in Australia, being unable to say antisemitism without saying islamophobia in the same breath, to fail to singularly identify and call out the particularity of antisemitism,” he said.

“Jewish Australians are so sick and tired of the moral equivalence, particularly because so many Jewish Australians are always at the forefront pushing back against the bigotry against other groups.”

-with AAP

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