June 29, 2010
A former Australian ambassador to Israel has accused the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, of being silent on the ”excesses” of Israel and questioned why her partner has been given a job by a prominent Israel lobbyist.
In a letter to the Herald, Ross Burns, who served as an ambassador between 2001 and 2003, said Ms Gillard has been ”remarkably taciturn on the excesses of Israeli actions in the past two years”.
Ms Gillard has been part of the Australian delegation to the last two meetings of the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, founded by the Melbourne property developer Albert Dadon.
Mr Dadon employs Ms Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, as a real estate salesman, at Ubertas. Mr Burns said yesterday that Ms Gillard was at the forum’s inaugural meeting in Israel last June, six months after the Israeli army invaded the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1000 Palestinians.
She was also the acting prime minister when the invasion took place, and issued a statement at the time criticising the Palestinian group Hamas for firing rockets into southern Israel. It did not condemn Israel for causing civilian casualties.
The former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, have since expressed unease at the subsequent blockade of Gaza by Israel.
”It looks a bit funny when you go on this tour to promote bilateral relations, but you don’t seem to have any reservations about the issue that was number one on the horizon,” Mr Burns said.
Another former Australian ambassador to Tel Aviv, Peter Rodgers, who served in the Israeli capital from 1994 to 1997, also criticised the government’s attitude towards Israel.
He said last night that under successive governments, Australia’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had become increasingly unbalanced, and that this was unlikely to change under Ms Gillard’s stewardship.
”There’s been a marked swing away from the old attempt to be even-handed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to a much more determined pro-Israeli position, and I think Gillard is part of that,” Mr Rodgers said.
The Herald sought comments from Ms Gillard, Michael Danby, a prominent Jewish federal MP – and a supporter of Ms Gillard in last week’s leadership coup – and Mr Dadon for this article, but received no response.
See original here.