(photo credit: Ahikam Seri/Bloomberg)
CANBERRA – The Israeli government has urged Australia to vote against the establishment of a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September, as a dispute between the country’s prime minister and foreign minister on that issue remains deadlocked.
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National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau expressed Israel’s position to acting Australian Foreign Minister Craig Emerson in Canberra on Monday. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is supportive of Israel’s stance, but her Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who is recovering from heart surgery, wants to abstain on the motion.
“I didn’t hide my disappointment at that,” Landau told The Jerusalem Post
after the meeting with Emerson.
“We presented to him the stance that, if the [UN] process leads to the point where a Palestinian state is established in such a hasty manner, it will be a victory for terror and a big victory for Iran.”
Rudd wrote to Gillard in late July recommending Australia abstain from the resolution, local newspapers reported at the time. The two have an uneasy relationship; Gillard overthrew Rudd as leader of the governing center- left Labor Party in June last year, replacing him as prime minister.
Aside from the Palestinian vote at the UN, Landau said he also discussed Iran and Libya in his meeting with Emerson.
“Of course we expressed great appreciation for the fact that Australia has taken a very clear line on Iran and its dangers,” he said, adding that Israel was appreciative of the deep friendship it enjoyed with Australia.
“You find here support that Israel has not found in Europe and has generally not found in the United States either. [The Australians] speak much more clearly and emphatically, on both sides of politics.”
He added, “Australia is one of the countries, next to Canada, that more
than any other Western country, understands the danger terror poses to
the free world, to the Western culture that we are a part of, to the
danger it poses to freedom and to the rule of law.”
In addition to Labor government ministers, Landau met with several MPs
from the center-right Liberal Party, including deputy opposition leader
Julia Bishop. He also had lunch with more than 20 members of the
Australian Parliamentary Friends of Israel Group, and was present at a
screening at Parliament House of Strangers No More, a short film that
won best short documentary at this year’s Academy Awards.
Landau also raised concern over the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions)
campaign being run by anti- Israel activists around the globe, telling
MPs from both sides of Australian politics that there is no difference
between the campaign and the targeting of Jews in Nazi Germany. One
federal MP, Senator Lee Rhiannon of the far-left Greens party, has
publicly backed the campaign.
In Australia at least, the fight against BDS is rapidly gaining support.
During a chance encounter in the halls of Parliament House, MP Shayne
Neumann told Landau that he and several Labor colleagues – including
Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan – will be sitting at a
Brisbane branch of Israeli restaurant chain Max Brenner on Sunday, in a
demonstration of their opposition to the anti-Israel campaign.