The chairman of the NSW Community Relations Commission has resigned after making pro-Israel comments.
SYDNEY, 27 July AAP - NSW Community Relations Commission chief Vic Alhadeff has resigned following controversial comments he made supporting Israel.
An email sent by Mr Alhadeff defending Israel's military offensive in Gaza, which has so far killed more than 1000 Palestinians, sparked calls from Muslim and Arab groups that he be sacked.
Premier Mike Baird resisted those calls, leaving Mr Alhadeff to decide whether he should step down.
"It is with considerable regret that I have decided to resign from my position as Chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission," Mr Alhadeff said in a statement on Sunday.
"I have chosen to do so in the interests of the CRC and its important work in fostering social harmony within our society."
The email, which was sent in Mr Alhadeff's capacity as CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, claimed Israel was operating with "care to avoid civilian casualties".
"Israel has made it clear that it is not interested in further escalation, but will do whatever is needed to defend its citizens," Mr Alhadeff said in the email.
"All options are on the table."
The email also included a "frequently asked questions" fact sheet from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs about its offensive in Gaza.
Mr Alhadeff now concedes the email "issued under my name inadvertently caused offence to some".
"This is greatly regretted," he said.
"While this was unintended, and despite the backing of numerous community leaders who acknowledged my record of goodwill, the reaction from some has become a distraction to the work of the CRC and the role of the chair."
Mr Baird's decision to back Mr Alhadeff angered community groups, who pledged to boycott future government events.
That started with a Ramadan event hosted by Mr Baird last week, which was shunned by groups including the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Australian Arabic Council.
NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello has accepted Mr Alhadeff's resignation.
He thanked Mr Alhadeff for his service, including restoring trust and resolving tensions between multicultural communities.
"Mr Alhadeff has committed his working life to the promotion of intercultural harmony, however I understand and respect the decision he has made," Mr Dominello said in a statement.
"I have no doubt he will continue to be an agent for harmony and tolerance in our community."
Arab Council Australia CEO Randa Kattan said the call for Mr Alhadeff's resignation were never about his works, but his divisive comments.
"It's more about putting a particular position out there is divisive and goes against any harmony that we know," Ms Kattan said.
"There was a huge uproar in the community about that."
Lebanese Muslim Association director Ahmad Malas also welcomed the resignation because, he said, Mr Alhadeff's appointment was untenable.
"This resignation will help keep the harmony of the Community Relations Commission so it continues to service its purpose and the community," he said.