National Security

Penny Wong under fire after Israel ambassador to Australia’s dressing down

July 4, 2024

Thursday 04 July 2024
Mohammad Alfares and Jack Quail
The Australian

Simon Birmingham has accused Labor of an “outrageous abandonment” of the Jewish state, amid reports that the Albanese government would refuse to back Israel in a conflict with listed terrorist organisation Hezbollah.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon had been reprimanded by assistant foreign minister Tim Watts last week, amid worsening border clashes between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, further derailing attempts to broker a ceasefire deal in Gaza.

Responding to the report, the opposition’s foreign affairs spokesman said the government needed to maintain its support for Israel’s inherent right to self defence, while also maintaining pressure on Hezbollah to stop their attacks.

“The Albanese government needs to come clean on the status of its support for Israel, which has repeatedly shifted and weakened despite terrorist groups still holding Israeli hostages, and seeking the destruction of Israel,” Senator Birmingham said.

“If this meeting did take place as reported then Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong need to explain why they didn’t front up to tell Israel themselves, and why they’re hiding the true extent of their abandonment of Israel from Australians.”

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson demanded Senator Wong clarify the government’s “deeply concerning” position.

“Penny Wong needs to step up today and explain exactly what it was that her assistant minister Tim Watts meant when he hauled in the Israeli ambassador and told him that if our friend and ally found itself in a war with Hezbollah, a listed terrorist organisation, that they could not count on our support,” Senator Paterson told Sky News on Thursday.

“That is deeply a concerning revelation and needs to be urgently clarified because Hezbollah has been attacking northern Israel since October 7 every day.

“This is the world’s best armed terror organisation and Israel has had to evacuate tens of thousands of its own residents who are internally displaced and cannot return to the north while the threat of Hezbollah remains.”

Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor refused to weigh in on the matter when questioned on the ABC on Thursday morning.

“I cannot confirm that, but I understand that the government deals of course directly with ambassadors as we should all the time, including the Israeli ambassador,” he said.

“It’s our job to convey our messages sometimes directly to government, sometimes via embassies. That’s the way you deal with foreign policy.

“And I believe if we’ve got something to convey to any government, then it’s absolutely proper we would convey that via an ambassador in many circumstances.”

Recent News

All Posts