‘A rare show of unity’

Scott Morrison speaking in Parliament.

THE Morrison government “will not turn a blind eye to an antisemitic agenda masquerading as defence of human rights in the UN”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week.

Morrison made the comments in Parliament on Tuesday while marking 70 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Israel.

The Prime Minister said it was in Australia’s interest to see Israel “continue to flourish as a liberal, participatory democracy in the Middle East” and slammed the United Nations for its “biased and unfair” targeting of Israel.

“The UN General Assembly is now the place where Israel is bullied and where antisemitism is cloaked in language about human rights,” he said.

Morrison also said, “We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical,” and praised the “remarkable contribution” Jews had made to Australia.

He had earlier posted a Facebook video marking the milestone, to which the Israeli embassy responded, “Australia has been a firm friend of Israel, even before the birth of the state – with the friendship of our peoples spanning across generations.”

Meanwhile Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called Israel a “free and prosperous democracy”.
“As a true friend of Israel, my party strongly supports a two-state solution,” he said.

“We expect the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel’s legitimate right to security. At the same time, we recognise the people of Palestine’s legitimate aspirations for a state of their own.”

Shorten also acknowledged Australia’s Jewish community. “Our nation has been enriched and enlarged beyond calculation by their intellect, their culture, their hard work and generosity, their philanthropy, their faith and love of family.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry called the speeches a “rare show of unity”.
“We commend the Prime Minister for condemning the hypocrisy and double standards of the UN in its obsessive and disproportionate focus on criticising Israel,” the ECAJ said.

“We also commend the Opposition Leader for calling on Palestinian and Arab leaders to recognise Israel’s legitimate security needs in order to advance hopes for a two-state solution.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “It is gratifying that both major parties are such strong supporters of Israel, a partner and vibrant democratic society.”

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler noted that Australia’s friendship with Israel “has transcended partisan politics, and the Jewish community here never takes that for granted”.

GARETH NARUNSKY