Australian PM accused of pro-Israel bias

Gillard: I am uninfluenced by partner's lobbyist employer.

June 29, 2010 18:00
1 minute read.
Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard speak

julia gillard 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is being criticized for her partner's connection to a pro-Israel lobbyist, reported Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday.

Gillard's partner, Tim Mathieson, is a real-estate agent employed at a company owned by Melbourne developer Albert Dadon, a well-known supporter of Israel, according to the report.

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The Australian prime minister declared that her partner's affiliation with Dadon does not influence her political views, particularly regarding Israel.

Gillard was elected as prime minister after ousting Australia's ruling party leader Kevin Rudd on June 24, in a sudden revolt that also delivered the country its first female leader and stunned the public.

Isi Liebler, the Israel-based former leader of an Australian Jewish umbrella body, said Gillard’s ascent to prime minister is “outstanding” for Israel.

Gillard is “one of Israel’s closest friends,” he said. “She was here in 2005 and last year, when she led a 40-member delegation. During the the war [Cast Lead] in 2009, she was extraordinarily [supportive] and positive of Israel’s position.”

Contrary to press reports that refer to Gillard as “the left of the Labor Party,” Liebler insists “she’s a centrist. She was supported by the Left because of [political] upheavals related to [outgoing] prime minister [Kevin Rudd], but that had nothing to do with ideological matters.”

Formerly serving as Rudd's deputy, Gillard was elected leader in an uncontested vote about 12 hours after she surprised many colleagues by challenging a prime minister who, until recently, was one of the most popular in modern Australian history.

Israel has had a tense relationship with the Rudd government over allegations that Israeli agents allegedly used faked Australian passports in the assassination of Hamas arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January.

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