Leading article Australia

Betraying Trump and Israel

19 May 2018

9:00 AM

19 May 2018

9:00 AM

The decision by Australia to boycott the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem is yet another in a long and embarrassing line of snubs directed at Donald Trump by the leadership team of Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop. Going back to when Mr Trump was the Republican candidate for the Presidency, Prime Minister Turnbull went out of his way, on the occasion of jetting to New York to deliver his first speech to the United Nations, to avoid meeting Mr Trump whilst prancing about taking selfies with the virtual lame duck President Barack Obama. Around the same time, rather than simply refusing to comment on the ‘pussy-grabbing’ idiocy that sent the Left into a frenzy but had negligible effect on Trump’s supporters, Mr Turnbull pointedly described the comment – or was it the candidate he intended to signal his distaste for? as ‘loathsome’.

On the day of President Trump’s election victory, following a campaign in which Mr Trump had bravely and repeatedly signalled his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate change Accord because of the damage it was inflicting upon the US economy, Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop wilfully engaged in what deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest betrayals of Australians by their own government: the beaming, grinning and pointless ratification of the Paris Accord.

A more cynical, childish and spiteful slap in the face of our most important ally and friend is hard to imagine. Hard on its heels came what was described at least by one of the parties as the ‘worst deal’ (and ‘phone call’) in our shared history; the dodgy asylum-seekers for Columbian and Mexican ‘undesirables’ swap cobbled together with Mr Obama.

And then as US Commander in Chief Trump embarked on his deliberate belittling and threatening of Kim Jong-un, a high-risk but hopefully ultimately successful catalyst for pushing the North Korean despot towards peace talks, support from Australia for Mr Trump’s approach was deafening in its absence.

When President Trump announced last year that he would be moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his decision was attacked in the UN. Did Australia come rushing to offer moral support to our closest ally? Of course not. Like cowards, we abstained.

When Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran deal, yet again his actions were denounced with undue haste by both Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop, neither of whom ever ‘miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’ to support Mr Trump.

Now, as Alan Gold writes in this week’s issue, the Australian government has erred in boycotting the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. ‘We have taken the view as most countries have that it is most conducive to the peace process to keep the [Australian] embassy in Tel Aviv,’ proclaimed Mr Turnbull pompously, as Ms Bishop disgracefully boycotted our attendance at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

What rot. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will only come when the Palestinians accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel. Pandering to those who are ‘offended’ by the US moving its embassy to the established political and historical capital of Israel is hardly ‘conducive’ to peace. Indeed, as Alan Gold points out, this stance leads directly to ‘the legitimisation of Palestinian violence in Gaza’. Worse, Mr Turnbull managed to compound one of the Left’s great lies: ‘Obviously, the status of Jerusalem and negotiations relating to Jerusalem are a key part of the peace negotiations, which we wish the very best for and which we support,’ he said. No, Mr Turnbull. It is only the status of East Jerusalem that may potentially require negotiations in any peace deal, not Jerusalem itself.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has long supported the idea of moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem, raising it as an issue both when he was in office and subsequently. Senator James Paterson, too, flagged the idea in his maiden speech.

Both the US and Israel are two of our most important allies culturally, economically, historically and militarily. By betraying them, we betray ourselves.

Pandora’s box

Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has committed a lazy $50,000 of her own money to establish a so-called ‘female fighting fund’ to help pre-select more women candidates into the Liberal party (the amount to be matched, apparently, by her colleagues). And so we see yet another key principle of conservatism abandoned in favour of the vacuous identity politics that gave us Gillard and Wong. Candidates should be selected on merit alone.

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