New Australian PM Critic of Israel But Opposed to BDS

Hamodia Staff

Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese speaks to supporters at a Labor Party event in Sydney, Australia (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

The Australian election that ended the Conservative party’s hold on power also likely ended the pro-Israel policy of the government in Canberra.

The new prime minister Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party has said he is “very critical of a lot of Israel’s policies” and a “strong advocate of justice for Palestinians.” He has also called Israel an “oppressor” that engages in collective punishment against Palestinians.

However, during the election campaign earlier this month, Albanese promised that “Israel will have Australia’s friendship and support” from a Labor government.

Albanese was also quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying that he is “passionate” about opposing the boycott Israel movement.

“Whenever asked about BDS I have been totally consistent in my opposition to it,” he stated.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett posted a congratulatory message to Albanese soon after the news of his election victory.

“Israel and Australia are close friends and I look forward to working together with [Albanese] to deepen that friendship and strengthen the bond between our nations,” he tweeted.

Bennett also thanked previous Australian prime minister Scott Morrison “for being a good friend and a valuable partner.”

Morrison’s government had recognized western Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, listed Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization and adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of Antisemitism.

The Australian Jewish Association said that “many in the Jewish Community will be upset with the results of the recent election.”

“Some of the people elected are on record as making extreme anti-Israel comments, including the new prime minister,” the AJA stated. “Some of the new members may have crossed the line into antisemitism, and the fact that this doesn’t seem to have affected their vote is concerning.”

Arsen Ostrovsky, an Israeli-Australian commentator on Middle East affairs expressed concern over the change in government.

“The Australian Labor party is not Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party [in the UK], and whilst there is solid support for Israel at the top level, there will likely be considerable pressure to water this down in the rank and file,” Ostrovsky stated. “I expect you will begin to see more abstentions at the U.N. and pressure on Israel to make further concessions.”

On the other hand, Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler said that “Labor has always been a great friend of the Australian Jewish community and an integral part of the bipartisan consensus on Israel. Mr. Albanese is committed to the Australia-Israel relationship, and to a negotiated, peaceful and democratic two-state outcome to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. These are priorities shared by the Australian Jewish community, and we look forward to working closely with Mr. Albanese and his government.”

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