Australian PM mobbed by anti-Israel protesters

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Australian Prime Minister John Howard was mobbed by protesters in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday, angry at the stance he has taken on the recent conflicts in the Middle East.

Leaving a Liberal party conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the West Australian capital, Howard was mobbed by 200 protestors angry at his support for Israel and the Australian government's lack of action.

Protestors kicked, punched and threw projectiles at the Prime Minister's vehicle as police struggled to keep the angry mob under control. One protestor managed to break off the Australian flag attached to the front of Mr Howard's vehicle.

Protestors, demanding a cease fire in the Middle East, chanted "we want peace" and handed out flyers proclaiming "Cluster bombs are used by Israel to burn our families in Lebanon. Is this fair?"

Police were taken by surprise at the speed by which the protest escalated into violence. "We were surprised by the approach. It was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration," one officer said. "It had been peaceful up to that point."

Police arrested two men and charged them with disorderly conduct.

Prior to the protest, Mr Howard told his party conference that two things must happen before peace can be realised in the middle east:

"The first is that there must be conditional acceptance throughout the entire Arab world, without exception, of Israel's right to exist in peace and stability behind secure and internationally recognised boundaries."

"The entire Arab world, including Hezbollah, Iran and Syria, must give up forever the idea that the Israelis can be driven from their land."

"The second condition is that there has to be a equally unconditional acceptance, including on behalf of the Israelis, of the need and the justice of an independent Palestinian state."

"There has to be a two-state solution."