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Palestinian Leaders Saddened Labor MP Resigned Over Pro-Palestine Remarks

The Western Australian Labor candidate's pro-Palestinian stance has lead her to quit the party during election season.

Melissa Parke has withdrawn from contesting the seat of Curtin after the remarks on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict she made last month went public.

The blue-ribbon seat -- previously held by retiring Liberal MP Julie Bishop -- is one of the electorates Labor is targeting in WA.

Parke stepped aside on Friday, after online newspaper WAtoday obtained audio of her speech from a WA Labor Friends Of Palestine launch event.

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At the Perth gathering, the former Gaza-based lawyer for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees voiced her disapproval of Australia not recognising the State of Palestine.

"There are already 137 nations that recognise the State of Palestine, that is more than 70 per cent of the world," she said.

"And, inshallah [Arabic for 'God willing'], Australia will join that consensus once we have a Federal Labor government.

"It's also time finally for Australia to support an end to the brutal occupation of Palestine and for the right of return of the Palestinian refugees."

The State of Palestine's Australian ambassador, Izzat Salah Abdulhadi, told 10 daily he "cannot understand" why Parke withdrew her candidacy.

Melissa Parke MP is sworn-in by Governor General Quentin Bryce as Minister for International Development on July 1, 2013 in Canberra. Image: Cole Bennetts/Getty.

"It's very unfortunate this has happened in Australia, which is a democracy. She has the right to say whatever she wants to say."

He called Parke a "very principled and credible person" who "has always supported justice and peace in the region and the two-state solution."

"She said Australia should recognise the State of Palestine -- a decision made at the last Labor National Conference. They said they want to recognise Palestine, so I can't understand why this has created a crisis in the party."

Parke said on Friday she wouldn't contest the seat of Curtin and would stand down from the party as not to be a "distraction".

"I've had 20 years experience in international relations and law including living and working in the Middle East. My views are well known.

Palestinians attend the "Great March of Return" at Israel-Gaza border on April 12. Image: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty.

"But I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor Government, which will take urgent and strong action on climate change.

"That’s why I have decided to withdraw my candidacy. I look forward to working and supporting the party in other ways."

Prior to Parke's departure from the party, Alex Ryvchin -- co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry -- told WAtoday he had conveyed his concerns about her to several Labor figures.

"It is regrettable that such an extreme and divisive figure should receive the endorsement of the Australian Labor Party, particularly at a time when it is vital to strengthen the political centre and diminish the appeal of low populism and false and polarising rhetoric," Ryvchin said.

Labor passed a resolution during the closing session of the party's 2018 conference calling on the next Labor Government to recognise Palestine.

Although on Saturday, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen told the ABC on Parke had "done the right thing in standing aside".

"Her views didn't represent the Labor Party views," he said.

Parke's language isn't extreme and divisive "at all", Abdulhadi said.

An injured Palestinian is carried away after Israeli forces interventions during "Great March of Return" demonstration near Israel-Gaza border on April 12. Image: Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency/Getty.

"This is a brutal, long-term occupation. She said the truth. She lived in Gaza for two years, working with the United Nations as an international lawyer. She is not biased -- she supports a peaceful solution to the conflict with a two-state solution. She supports Israel's right to exist.

"If the international community supports Israel and the two-state solution, then why they don't want to recognise the other state?"

The term 'Palestinian territories' has been used for many years to describe the land occupied by Israel since 1967, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Two million Palestinian people are living under an illegal blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel for the past 11 years, according to Amnesty International.

Israel -- which controls access to Gaza via air, land and sea -- says it has maintained the blockade for security reasons.

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For the past two weeks, Palestinians have been protesting along the Israel-Gaza fence demanding the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees to their villages and towns in what are now part of Israel.

Israel rejects any such return, saying it would eliminate its Jewish majority.

*CEO of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, was contacted for comment for this story but declined due to religious observance.

Contact the author: samelia@networkten.com.au.