Labor loses WA candidate over Israel views

Melissa Parke has stepped aside as Labor candidate for Curtin over her views on Israel.
Melissa Parke has stepped aside as Labor candidate for Curtin over her views on Israel.

Labor's push to gain ground in the Western Australia seat of Curtin has suffered a blow after their star candidate Melissa Parke withdrew from the contest.

Ms Parke, a former minister for international development in the Rudd government, stepped aside on Friday after reports about comments she had made concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict.

She said her views on Palestinian statehood and the brutality of Israel's settlements were "well known", but that she didn't want to be a distraction to Labor's campaign.

The Herald Sun says Ms Parke compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians with "the South African system of apartheid" at a public meeting last month.

She also commented on claims a pregnant Palestinian woman had been forced to drink a bottle of bleach by Israeli officials at a Gaza checkpoint.

Bill Shorten told reporters on Saturday that Ms Parke had "done the right thing" in standing down and that he didn't share her views.

"I have a view that Israel has the right to security behind its borders and the Palestinian people have a legitimate issue in statehood," the Labor leader told reporters on the NSW Central Coast.

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

Labor is trying to win the Liberal seats of Hasluck, Swan, Stirling and Canning.

Mr Bowen played down Labor's hopes in Curtin, saying it wasn't a seat they expected to win.

While Curtin has a safe margin of 20.7 per cent, Labor was banking on the loss of Ms Bishop's personal vote and a strong candidate to reduce the Liberal hold on the seat.

Ms Parke isn't the only early scratching of a candidate in the election race.

On Friday three Liberal candidates from the Victorian seats of Lalor, Wills and Cooper pulled out after discovering they were likely ineligible for parliament due to section 44 problems.

Australian Associated Press