JUST weeks after promising to look into the prospect of establishing an Australian diplomatic presence in Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has ruled out the possibility.
Addressing the Zionist Federation of Australia’s (ZFA) 90th anniversary plenary in Canberra on Monday, Bishop said she had explored the option and cited cost and priority as the reasons for not opening a consular presence in the Israeli capital.
She also ruled out moving Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, warning that it would be a potentially harmful escalation of tensions and a unilateral action.
Bishop was one of several high-profile guests addressing the two-day plenary, which took place in the nation’s capital for the first time.
The conference also heard from outspoken Israeli MK Merav Michaeli, who came out swinging on a number of topics.
The Zionist Union MK said a two-state solution is a matter of political will, “both on the Palestinian side but, make no mistake, also on the Israeli side”.
“The only time that we had actual political will to work towards a solution – to really find a solution, not to play the blame game more effectively, and to show that we have done everything and they’re the ‘evil ones’ – was with Yitzhak Rabin and the Oslo Accords.
“The political will to actually turn every stone on the way to peace – this is the only time it was done. This is our main problem.”
The MK, who is visiting Australia as a guest of Habonim Dror and Ameinu, has previously called for the institution of marriage to be abolished, describing it as an out-of-date concept.
However, asked about same-sex marriage, she said “as long as marriage is something that gives civil rights, status, privileges – it cannot possibly be inaccessible to some”.
“If you want to say we will not give out privileges and duties based on this institution, OK, this is not a problem.
“But as long as you are giving it out on this basis – it’s not possible to discriminate against some people just because they prefer to sleep with other people. You cannot justify it in any possible way.”
Also addressing the plenary was federal Labor MP Mike Kelly, who reaffirmed his party’s commitment to the Jewish State.
“Israel’s enemy is Australia’s enemy, Israel’s fight is our fight. You have friends in Labor that believe that,” Kelly said.
“We will always need to engage in dialogue on how we get to a better, secure, peaceful future for Israel.
“Your friends in Labor are there with you shoulder to shoulder in that battle and we’re determined not to let you down.”
Israeli futurist David Passig and outgoing Israeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, also addressed delegates.