8/8/2023 – Sydney
New Israel Fund (NIF) Australia welcomes Foreign Minister Wong’s statement expressing concern about settlement activity and settler violence in the occupied Palestinian territories. Since the election of the Netanyahu government last year, settlement approvals and settler violence have reached a record high, receiving widespread condemnation from the Australian government and from our allies in Britain, Canada, Europe, and the United States.
As a community of progressive Jews and supporters, NIF is committed to investing in Israeli civil society to support human and civil rights organisations. We are dedicated to building a liberal democracy in Israel that supports a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
NIF welcomes Australia’s decision to recognise the fact that the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law, and that they have only served to further hinder peacebuilding efforts between Israelis and Palestinians, as UN resolution 2334, hundreds of academics and a range of Jewish organisations have noted.
Since Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed former settlement leader and self-described “proud homophobe”, Bezalel Smotrich, MK, in charge of settlement activity within the Defense Ministry, we have seen nearly 600 settler attacks and more than 20,000 housing units advanced in settlements – the highest levels on record.
Only last week, settlers killed a 19-year-old Palestinian man in the West Bank town of Burqa. Not a single member of the Netanyahu government condemned the attack, though two members of Netanyahu’s own coalition visited one of the two murder suspects in hospital and National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, praised the action of the suspects calling them “heroes”.
The current Netanyahu government has enabled the far-right, messianic agenda of the settlement enterprise and continues to support the agenda of the settlement movement, at great risk to the security of the nation, as its own security chiefs warned less than a month ago.
NIF is committed to a Jewish homeland in Israel and welcomes Foreign Minister Wong’s support for the state of Israel as home for the Jewish people. We support the Australian Government’s commitment to fight anti-semitism and Holocaust denial. NIF will continue to invest in civil society in Israel to safeguard the rights of all groups living in Israel and under its control in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Media contact: Michael Chaitow on 0432 629 342
NIF Australia was formed in 2011 with the visit of then-president of NIF Israel, and the former deputy speaker of the Knesset, Naomi Chazan. In the more than ten years since its formation, NIF Australia has raised over $5 million, distributing grants to important civil society organisations in Israel, and facilitating new conversations about Israel inside the Australian Jewish community. Our community promotes freedom, equality and social justice by funding Israeli nonprofits and fostering new discussions in the Australian Jewish community.