Australian senator involved in Gaza protest vote resigns

Senator Fatima Peyman has resigned from Australia’s ruling Labor Party, days after voting against supporting a motion to establish a Palestinian state.

The Labour Party has tough penalties for anyone who undermines the party’s policy positions and Peyman has already been “indefinitely banned” from the party’s caucus after vowing to do the same thing again.

“This is an issue I cannot compromise on,” the 29-year-old said Thursday, adding that she was “deeply troubled” by the decision.

Premier Anthony Albanese said he thanked Peyman for his leadership and denied allegations he had been forced to resign.

Peyman will now sit on the crossbench as an independent senator.

The 29-year-old Muslim MP, who fled Afghanistan with her family after it fell to the Taliban in 1996, is Australia’s first and only federal politician to wear the hijab.

“Unlike my colleagues, I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of injustice. My family did not come here as refugees from a war-torn country so that I could remain silent while atrocities were inflicted on innocent people,” she said at a news conference announcing her resignation.

The Gaza conflict has become a volatile political issue in Australia, with all parties trying to tread carefully.

The government officially supports a two-state solution but did not support the motion after it tried unsuccessfully to include a condition that any recognition should be “as part of the peace process”.

The Israeli military launched an operation to destroy Hamas’ control over the Gaza Strip following an unprecedented Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7 that left some 1,200 people dead and 251 taken hostage.

More than 37,900 people have died in the Gaza Strip since then, including 28 of them in the past 24 hours, according to the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Peyman said that since the Greens crossed the Senate floor last Tuesday to vote in favor of Palestinian statehood, he had received “tremendous support” from some colleagues and “pressure to toe the party line” from others. He also reported receiving “death threats and some pretty provocative emails” from members of the public.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who suspended Peyman on Sunday, had repeatedly said Peyman could rejoin caucus, where lawmakers debate government policy, if he was willing to do so “as a team player”.

But in a statement earlier this week, Peyman said he had been “banned” by the Labour party, explaining he had been excluded from meetings, group chats and all committees.

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