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Palestinian-Australian files legal complaint over government’s ‘advocacy’ of Israel

Nasser Mashni's racial discrimination complaint accuses the federal government of taking an "Israel-centric" position in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Australian Human Rights Commission will investigate a racial discrimination complaint against the federal government that accuses it of advocating on behalf of Israel. 


The complaint filed by Palestinian-Australian advocate Nasser Mashni refers to the government’s comments during Israel’s bombing of Gaza last May, accusing it of “advocacy" on behalf of Israel to avoid investigation by the International Criminal Court.


It alleges the Australian government has discriminated against Palestinian-Australians and has a legal obligation to advance equality before the law.


Following the ceasefire in Gaza last May, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said: “the State of Israel unquestionably has the right to defend itself in accordance with international law”.


Mr Mashni told SBS News he had been denied opportunities due to his Palestinian background.


He said Australia is not honest in its language when it discusses Israel and as such, it has failed to meet its obligations under international law to progress the human rights of all ethnic groups in Australia.


“As an Australian of Palestinian background, I have spent the majority of my life having to defend my identity, who I am, where I came from,” Mr Mashni told SBS News.


“As Australian-Palestinians, we are inevitably on the back foot because the Australian government takes a very Israel-centric position.


Mr Mashni - the vice president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) - said some of his family still lives in Palestine and described their existence as “difficult”.