Sharma: ‘I will always stand up for Israel’

Dave Sharma addressing the media. Photos: Gareth Narunsky

NEW Wentworth Liberal MP Dave Sharma has pledged to “always stand up for Israel” and to be a “fervent combatant” of antisemitism and the anti-Israel boycott movement.

With the result being too close to call on election night, it took until Monday for the numbers to firm in the former ambassador to Israel’s favour. It was his second tilt at the seat after being defeated by Jewish independent Kerryn Phelps at last October’s by-election.

Speaking to The AJN, Sharma thanked the Jewish community for its continuing support.

“They’ve obviously been longstanding friends and supporters of mine during my time as ambassador in Israel and to have that friendship and support continue as a candidate has been very touching,” he said.

He lauded Australian Jewry’s contribution to public life, the arts and commerce, calling the community “a vital part not only of Wentworth but also of Australia”. 

“The community here in Wentworth and indeed in Australia can always count on me to be a strong supporter of the State of Israel,” he added, saying he would defend the Jewish state “against disproportionate attacks”.

He continued, “As a local representative in Wentworth, I want to do all I can to ensure that Jewish community life can be practised safely and securely and in peace.”

Kerryn Phelps flanked by supporters.

Sharma acknowledged Phelps for her contribution at a press conference on Monday.

Phelps, who telephoned Sharma to concede defeat on Monday morning, wished him well and said it had been “an enormous privilege” to serve as the Member for Wentworth for seven months.

“I am very proud of the work my team and I were able to do in that relatively brief period of time,” she said, listing the Kids of Nauru campaign and the related Medevac Bill as key achievements. “I operated in Canberra with conviction, integrity and a belief that individuals can improve the political conversation. I delivered on my promises.”

Phelps also condemned the homophobic and antisemitic emails – under police investigation – that targeted her during the campaign.

“There is no place for this in Australian politics or public life.”

Full election coverage in this week’s AJN.

GARETH NARUNSKY