Australia–Israel relations

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Australia–Israel relations
Map indicating locations of Israel and Australia

Israel

Australia
Diplomatic Mission
Israeli Embassy, Canberra Australian Embassy, Tel Aviv
Envoy
Ambassador Shmuel Ben Ambassador Dave Sharma

Australia–Israel relations refers to bilateral relations between Australia and Israel. The relationship has a strong historical dimension, dating back to the First World War when Australian forces fought alongside the Allies and played a key role in the Battle of Beersheba. Australia and Israel enjoy a warm and cooperative relationship.[1]

Australia has an embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel has an embassy in Canberra. According to a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, only 16% of Australians hold positive views towards Israel; 69% hold complete negative views.[2]


History[edit]

Australian Light Horse Monument, Beersheba

Four Australian Light Horse brigades and a battalion of camel troops took part in the British conquest of Palestine in 1916-1917. The Australian-Jewish general John Monash was a leader of the Australian Zionist movement. Australians soldiers fought in the Middle East in World War II. The Australian foreign minister H.V. Evatt served as Chairman of the UN General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine and helped to push through the UN Partition Plan on November 29, 1947. Australia was the first country to vote in favour of the plan despite heavy pressure from the United Kingdom on its fellow Commonwealth nations to abstain on the resolution.[3]

Full diplomatic relations were established on 29 January 1949.[4]

The Liberal-Country Party Coalition supported Israel during and after the 1967 Six-Day War. In the 1980s, Bob Hawke opposed the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. Ties with Israel were strengthened under Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who supported Israel in the 2006 Lebanon War.[3]

In Israel, Anzac Day is commemorated at the Commonwealth War cemetery on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. The Australian Soldier Park in Beersheba is dedicated to the memory of the Australian Light Horse regiment that charged at Beersheba and defeated the Turks in World War I.[5]

Bilateral trade[edit]

Monthly value (A$ millions) of Australian merchandise exports to Israel since 1988
Monthly value of Israeli merchandise exports to Australia (A$ millions) since 1988

In October 2012, the Israeli company Elbit Systems Ltd won a contract from the Australian Defence Force to supply Battle Management Systems to the Royal Australian Navy's landing craft. General manager Bezhalel Machlis of Elbit Systems' Land and C4I Division said that "the fact that the Australian Defense Force, one of the most advanced and modern armies in the world, has decided to also equip its Navy with our Battle Management Systems, attests to its satisfaction with the quality and maturity of our systems."[6]

Controversy[edit]

In May 2010, the Australian government expelled an Israeli diplomat over the use of Australian passports in the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said that the misuse of the passports was "not the act of a friend."[7]

Tension rose again after the Gaza flotilla raid,[8] in which an Australian citizen was injured. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd condemned Israel's actions.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]