Vilification concern as senator iced for Palestine vote

The Muslim community has issued a plea to politicians and leaders to avoid stoking social tensions as a Labor senator is frozen out of her party's caucus  following her support of a pro-Palestinian motion.

West Australian Fatima Payman defied her party and crossed the floor to support a Greens Senate motion on recognising Palestine as a state.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke with Senator Payman on Wednesday morning following the vote the night before, saying she wouldn't attend Labor's caucus meetings "for the rest of the session".

The request to sit out of caucus was at the prime minister's behest.

Parliament is only set to sit for one more week before going on a five-week break spanning July.

Anthony Albanese during Question Time
Opponents say Fatima Payman's actions are a test of Anthony Albanese's leadership. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Labor's partyroom convenes once a sitting week on a Tuesday morning, meaning she's only set to miss one scheduled meeting.

While Labor MPs who cross the floor and vote against the party's position are usually expelled under internal rules, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles poured cold water on a push to kick the young Muslim senator out.

"This is not a time to be going around expelling people because they have a particular view on this issue," he said, adding social cohesion was under stress following Hamas' attack against Israel.

It's the first time a Labor Party member has crossed the floor since 2005 and the first time one has done so in government since the mid-1980s.

Opposition members have branded the defiance a test of the prime minister's leadership.

Senator Payman maintained she followed her conviction and conscience by voting for the Greens motion, saying it was in line with Labor's policy to recognise Palestinian statehood.

"We cannot believe in a two-state solution and only recognise one," she said.

Fatima Payman crosses the floor in the senate.
Fatima Payman and the Greens have been condemned by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Labor's policy is to recognise a Palestinian state once certain preconditions have been met.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has inched this forward since taking office, saying recognition could no longer wait until the end of a negotiated peace process.

Senator Payman drew instant condemnation from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who accused her and Greens senators of promoting a one-state solution and speaking against Israel.

Greens foreign affairs spokesman Jordon Steele-John said progress on a two-state solution had been hampered by Israel's illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

The party urged more Labor members to support their motion on Palestinian statehood, saying it was a pathway to peace.

The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network has urged restraint on rhetoric against Senator Payman, saying there's a risk of promoting Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian sentiments.

Conflating supporting Palestinian statehood - which the government and opposition have committed to doing under different caveats - with supporting Hamas or terrorism demeaned all Palestinians and Muslims, the network said.

Protestors hold a Palestinian flag
Calls to recognise Palestine as a state have renewed local tensions in the Middle East debate. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils welcomed Senator Payman's support, saying the pro-Palestinian stance upheld values of human rights, justice and international law.

But the coalition and some Jewish community leaders have expressed outrage at any push to recognise a Palestinian state while Hamas remained a threat to Israel, saying it rewarded the actions of the designated terrorist group.

Senator Payman has also joined with the Greens and crossbenchers to call on the government to take a stronger stance against Israel's actions in Gaza, with the death toll surpassing 37,000, according to the Hamas-run local health ministry.

A United Nations inquiry found both Israel and Hamas have been responsible for war crimes after the designated terrorist organisation killed 1200 Israelis and took some 250 hostages during an attack on October 7.