Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Wrist-slapping unlikely to halt Israeli military sales to Australia

In response to the announcement by the Israeli government of 3,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Bob Carr expressed "grave concern" on behalf of the Australian government. For the sake of a durable peace for both Israel and Palestine, we should hope that this expression is sincere. But what hope is there that a sustained and consistent expression of diplomatic displeasure, let alone any real action, can be expected? If our recent form is any guide, then very little at all.

Those with a memory longer than the last commercial break will recall how, in May 2010 the then PM, Kevin Rudd, expelled an Israeli diplomat from Canberra in response to the use of forged Australian passports by Mossad agents in order to conduct an assassination on an alleged terrorist in Dubai some months earlier. At about the same time, the killing of Turkish peace activists on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla raid took place on 31 May 2010, but that tragedy prompted no condemnation from the Australian government.

Following a change of prime minister, and the commencement of a federal election campaign, the new foreign minister, Steven Smith, spoke to the Australian Jewish News on 12 August of that year. In that interview, he said that he was "very confident now that in terms of agency-to-agency relationship, government-to-government, nation-to-nation, it is business as usual." This decision was confirmed by an article in The Age in December 2011 which claimed that the intelligence sharing links between Australia and Israel had been recently restored, with the passport incident now a distant memory.


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