Hundreds of Australians protest Netanyahu's arrival in Sydney

Hundreds of Australians protest Netanyahu's arrival in Sydney
2 min read
23 February, 2017
A large group of Australian protesters congregated in the area in front of Sydney town hall to protest against the continued occupation of Palestinian land.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Sydney's Town Hall on Thursday to protest a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Around 650 pro-Palestinian supporters, including a core group of Jewish protesters, waved flags and shouted slogans as they marched through the city's business district.

"We are here to oppose Australia's support for Israel, for a racist apartheid nation," said Australian lawyer, Randa Abdel-Fattah.

"It's disgusting to see that some of our Australian leaders have rolled out the red carpet and welcomed a war criminal into Australia."

Netanyahu was forced to add an extra two and a half hours on to his flight time from Singapore to Sydney on Wednesday, reportedly in order to avoid Indonesian airspace.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and is a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights.

The march was organised by the Palestine Action Group, which has called Netanyahu a "war criminal" in the past.

"Netanyahu you will see, Palestine will be free" and "Free, free Palestine" were the two most common refrains heard at the march.

This is not the first time that Netanyahu has been the subject of harsh words. In 2011, the then French President, Nicolas Sarkozy was recorded exchanging barbs with US President Obama.

"I can't stand him. He's a liar," Sarkozy said.

Obama replied, "You're tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day."

The French president's office and a White House spokesman refused to comment on the exchange at the time.

"The old friendship"

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heaped praise on Netanyahu in an article published Wednesday, describing the "old friendship" between the two countries.

The Israeli Prime Minister is in Sydney to discuss tripling bilateral trade, currently valued at nearly $1 billion a year. Netanyahu has called for "closer technology and aviation ties".