Blinken ‘gets it’

Concern over alleged Ambassador dressing down on Hezbollah

'We were surprised by this unconfirmed report, given Hezbollah is a proscribed terrorist organisation, clearly the aggressor in this situation'

Israeli Ambassador Amir Maimon. Photo: Peter Haskin
Israeli Ambassador Amir Maimon. Photo: Peter Haskin

The Zionist Federation of Australia has expressed concern at unconfirmed reports that Australia has told Israel it will not back it in a war with Hezbollah.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday morning that Israeli Ambassador Amir Maimon was summoned to meet with Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts, who told the envoy Australia would not support the Jewish state in a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“We were surprised by this unconfirmed report, given Hezbollah is a proscribed terrorist organisation, clearly the aggressor in this situation, and has caused the internal displacement of 60,000 Israelis due to its illegal attacks and threats of invasion,” ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said.

“The US has said it will back Israel for these very reasons. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently noted that Israel has lost sovereignty in its north, with people unable to return to their homes. He gets it.

“The situation is quite clear. An Iranian funded and trained proxy, which is banned in Australia because it’s a terrorist organisation, is carrying out daily missile attacks against civilians, leading to tens of thousands of those civilians being displaced from their homes for most of a year,” Leibler continued.

“We would expect all Western governments to place real pressure on Iran and Hezbollah, and this includes by fulling backing Israel’s right to defend its people and its sovereignty.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein noted that Hezbollah is proscribed as a terrorist group in Australia and since October has fired “many thousands of rockets, anti-tank missiles, mortars and drones at Israel”.

“Israel has the right to prevent this ongoing terrorist aggression by force if necessary, just as any country has the right to defend itself against terrorism. If it is accurate that our Government informed Israel that it will not support its exercise of this universal right  it would show an appalling lack of principle,” he said.

“We understand the desire to avoid further conflict, but if we are berating and threatening our democratic ally as it exercises its right to self-defence, this can only give succour to the terrorists attacking it, and is therefore contrary not only to basic self-defence principles and morality, but would also be contrary to our national interest.”

Noting there had been “a distressing pattern” of policy shifts by Labor on Israel, Australian Jewish Association CEO Robert Gregory said it was a “new low, telling an ally under attack it will not be supported in defending its citizens.”

Israeli security expert Sarit Zehavi lashed the Australian government’s silence on Hezbollah’s cross border attacks in an interview with The AJN late last month.

“When you are trying to appease a terrorist organisation, you’re going to get terror at your home. It’s very simple,” the former IDF intelligence officer and Alma Centre director said.

She also said if any other state was being attacked the way Israel’s north is by Hezbollah, it would be considered “a declaration of war”.

“We have drones that are crossing every day from Lebanon … some of them are crashing on our bases and communities, killing soldiers and injuring civilians. We have rockets that caused fires all over the Galilee,” she said.

“And everybody is talking about when Israel will initiate the war. The war was already initiated by Hezbollah.”

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