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, which were established in 1949.[1] Australia has an embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel has an embassy in Canberra. Relations between the two countries' governments have often been shaped by the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs describes Australia and Israel as having "a healthy commercial relationship with two-way trade worth $919 million [in 2013]".[2] John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia between 1996 and 2007, has stated that "[Australia's] capacity to influence events within the region is limited and should not be over-stated".[3]

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. Australian 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.[4]

Full diplomatic relations were established on 29 January 1949.[5]

The Liberal–Country Party Coalition supported Israel during and after the 1967 Six-Day War. However, the subsequent Labor government led by Gough Whitlam, elected in 1972, shifted to what was described as a more "even-handed" approach to relations. The change came after the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and was linked with Whitlam's desire to be on friendlier terms with Arab countries.[6]

The subsequent Liberal government led by Malcolm Fraser, elected in 1975, expressed "support for United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 339 as providing the basis for a peaceful settlement". Fraser later said that Australia should "make more plain our commitment to the survival of Israel". In 1980, Andrew Peacock, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that "peace should be based … upon Israel’s rights to exist within secure and recognised boundaries; and upon recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to a homeland alongside Israel". Peacock's statement was echoed by Fraser in 1982, who said "the legitimate rights of the Palestinians include a homeland alongside Israel".[3]

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.[4]

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.[7]

A 2014 BBC World Service opinion poll found that 67% of Australians had a negative view of Israel's influence and 24% had a positive view. However, Israel was viewed less negatively than in the 2007 survey. Of the countries surveyed, only Indonesia and the UK had a greater proportion of their population view Israel negatively. No similar survey was conducted to ascertain Israeli perceptions of Australia.[8]

In December 2016, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop openly distanced Australia from the United States in response to their abstention regarding UNSC Resolution 2334, suggesting that Australia would have voted against the resolution had it been in the Security Council.[9] Australia was the only nation to have spoken out against the resolution besides Israel.

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

In February 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first incumbent Israeli leader to visit Australia. Netanyahu met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and other state and federal politicians.[10][11]

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

Controversy[edit]

In the early 1980s, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tony Street, expressed opposition to the Israeli Knesset's passing of the Jerusalem Law and Golan Heights Law. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said Israel's actions were "of the gravest concern to the Australian Government and people", and were "short sighted and foolish".[3]

In May 2010, the Australian government expelled an Israeli diplomat over the use of Australian passports forged by the Israeli government which were used in the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said that Israel had forged Australian passports previously, and while "Australia remains a firm friend of Israel ... our relationship must be conducted on the basis of mutual trust and respect".[12]

Tension rose again after the Gaza flotilla raid,[13] in which an Australian citizen was injured. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd condemned Israel's actions.[14]

In 2013, the ABC reported that an Australian citizen, Ben Zygier, had died in Israeli custody in 2010.[15][better source needed] The ABC reported that Zygier, who had worked for Israeli security agency, The Mossad, had been imprisoned after unintentionally sabotaging a spy operation dedicated to repatriating the bodies of Israeli soldiers killed during the Israel/Lebanon war of the 1980s.[16] This story reignited discussion about the potential for conflicts arising from dual citizenship in general, and about Jewish Australians' relationships to Israel.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Israel country brief". 
  3. ^ a b c The Fraser Government (1975–1983), Australia and the Middle East conflict: a history of key Government statements (1947–2007), Parliament of Australia, 13 August 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Australia and Israel: a unique friendship". 13 March 2008. 
  5. ^ Danny Ben-Moshe, Zohar Segev (2007). Israel, the Diaspora, and Jewish identity. p. 262. ISBN 978-1-84519-189-4. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Our ‘disappointing relationship’ with Gough", The Australian Jewish News, 23 October 2014.
  7. ^ "פארק החייל האוסטרלי". 
  8. ^ "Negative views of Russia on the Rise: Global Poll" – The BBC World Service, p. 31.
  9. ^ Greene, Andrew (29 December 2016). "Australia rejects Obama administration's stance against Israeli settlements". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 December 2016. 
  10. ^ Dorsett, Jesse; Belot, Henry (22 February 2017). "Netanyahu visit: Israel PM praises Malcolm Turnbull for calling out UN". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  11. ^ Frost, Carleen (22 February 2017). "Benjamin Netanyahu visit: Israeli PM pays tribute to ongoing ‘warm friendship’ with Australia". The Advertiser. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  12. ^ Maley, Paul (24 May 2010). "Rudd government to expel Israeli diplomat over forged passports used in Hamas hit". The Australian. 
  13. ^ ISRAEL, JASON KOUTSOUKIS, ASHDOD, (31 May 2010). "Gaza flotilla attack: Australian injured". 
  14. ^ "Kevin Rudd has condemned Israel over raid on Gaza aid ships". news.com.au. 1 June 2010. 
  15. ^ Death of Ben Zygier
  16. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-07/zygier-sabotaged-mission-repatriate-israeli-remains-prisoner-x/4675556
  17. ^ http://galusaustralis.com/2013/02/6797/dual-loyalty-accusations-arise-from-the-ben-zygier-case/

External links[edit]