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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.(Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, Jr., had a must-read yesterday for all the political junkies out there, about how Australia’s forthcoming elections could resonate halfway around the world in America. Labor Party Prime Minister Julia Gillard—Dionne’s surrogate for President Obama and the Democrats—is pushing a message of “moving forward” versus “going back,” while opposition leader Tony Abbott, the conservative, wants to tar Labor as the party of high taxes and high debt.

But there is at least one issue on which Gillard and Abbott share a viewpoint, in defiance, at least in Gillard’s case, of their party-lines: They are both unusually strong supporters of Israel.

Last month, some in her party accused Gillard of taking too “soft” a line on Israel’s “excesses”; her reaction to the 2009 Gaza conflict, during which she was acting prime minister, was: “Clearly the act of aggression was engaged in by Hamas which commenced shelling with rockets and mortars into Israel. That is what breached the ceasefire, and Israel responded.”

And during the whole Mahmoud al-Mabhouh affair earlier this year, Tony Abbott asked the government—then run by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd—not to expel an Israeli diplomat over the forged Australian passports that had been used by some of the (allegedly Mossad) assassins. (Rudd didn’t listen.)

So American political observers may want to pay attention to the election, which is next month. From Israel’s perspective, however, it’s a wash.

Going Back or Forward? Australian Vote Leads The Way [WP]
Gillard Accused of Soft Line on Tel Aviv [The Age]
Tony Abbott Calls For Restraint on Israel [The Australian]
Related: Murder in Dubai [Tablet Magazine]





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