COMMUNITY leaders have congratulated Kevin Rudd on his return to the top job while paying tribute to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard for her support for Israel and the Jewish community.
Rudd defeated Gillard by 57 votes to 45 in a Labor caucus vote last night and was sworn in as Prime Minister this morning.
Zionist Federation of Australia president Philip Chester congratulated Rudd.
“We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Mr Rudd in the past and look forward to working with him and his team again in the future,” he said.
“I also take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks on behalf of the community to Julia Gillard, who has been a staunch supporter of the Jewish community and of Israel.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) vice president Nina Bassat paid tribute to Gillard.
“Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has a strong record of being a supporter of both the Jewish community and the State of Israel and we’ve enjoyed an extremely cordial working relationship with her, for which we thank her,” she said.
“We hope the same degree of cordiality and [that] close relationship will continue with Kevin Rudd.”
Speaking from Israel, ECAJ president Danny Lamm said Gillard “was outstanding in her support of Israel, most notably during the operation in Gaza [in 2009] when she strongly asserted Israel’s rights to defend itself, when she stood by Israel with the first [U.N. General Assembly] vote on the Palestinians and her [ultimately unsuccessful] attempts to retain that position last year.”
It is still unclear how the leadership change will affect the Government’s two Jewish MPs, Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts Michael Danby and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.
GARETH NARUNSKY (WITH JTA)
Returning Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.