Pollies mark partition anniversary

Julie Bishop addressing the Celebrating Israel event in Canberra.

ISRAEL is “a beacon of democracy in a very troubled neighbourhood”, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on the 70th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) partition resolution which led to the establishment of the country.

Bishop, speaking at an event at Federal Parliament House to fellow politicians, ambassadors from around the world and Jewish communal leaders from across Australia, said that Australia and Israel share common values based on international rules and open liberal democracies.

“Australia was the first nation to vote in favour of the partition resolution and we have remained firm and staunch friends since that time,” she said. “Australia is one of a few nations in the world prepared to stand up for Israel in the UN and we will not support one-sided, unfair, unbalanced resolutions that target Israel.”

She referred to Item Seven in the UN Human Rights Council agenda, which singles out Israel in a stand-alone item.

“Australia, under the Coalition Government, will not engage in debates on Item Seven that only target Israel … This is an example of the depth of feeling that we have for the people of Israel and we will continue to work together.”

Anat Sultan-Dadon, the deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Israel in Australia, read out a message from Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Although the friendship between our peoples stretches back many years, the strong ties between the State of Israel and Australia bear the indelible mark of foreign minister (Herbert) Evatt, a staunch advocate of Jewish statehood,” Netanyahu said.

“Australia was an early supporter of the Zionist cause and foreign minister Evatt played a pivotal role in shaping the final plan voted upon by the United Nations that fateful day in November 1947.

“Australia was the first country to vote in favour of the partition plan, which reflected the world recognition of the Jewish people’s right to a national home in our ancient land, and was one of the first countries to formally recognise the State of Israel.

“Since then our relations have only grown stronger.”

The event was co-hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NCJWA), the Embassy of Israel, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

Dalia Sinclair from NCJWA told The AJN she was thrilled to have the event in Parliament House. “Each year it is difficult for federal politicians to come to Sydney at the end of November, where we normally host this function, so if they wouldn’t come to us we came to them,” she said. “The event is 13 years old and this is the pinnacle.”

JOSHUA LEVI