Payne: ‘One step closer for the Jewish people’

Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne has addressed a second sitting of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual conference.

Marise Payne addressing the UN General Assembly. Photo: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Marise Payne addressing the UN General Assembly. Photo: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne offered a “glimmer of hope” when she said many nations are recognising they have far more to gain by welcoming Israel than by fighting it, while surveying recent developments in the global arena from an Australian perspective in her address to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry on Sunday.

Exalting the Abraham Accords as “remarkable diplomatic developments”, Payne commented, “If there is to be hope for an enduring and resilient peace for Israel it surely must lie in the ending of the formal state of belligerence that exists between some nations and Israel.”

In anticipation of Australia’s two-year seat on the United Human Rights Council ending at the conclusion of 2020, Payne reiterated Australia’s position in having “steadfastly, resolutely maintained our strong objection to discriminatory resolutions aimed solely and specifically against Israel”.

Australia has enlisted new allies to that position, noted Payne, “who have assisted us in resisting the insidious creep of antisemitism cloaked in the language of human rights that we have carried into our voting pattern in the UN General Assembly”.

On the back end of a turbulent year, the minister offered a timely reminder that many have endured far darker historical periods.

“For over seven decades now, many have carried the burden and the scars from the blackest crimes of humanity,” said Payne.

“We remember the debt we owe to you who survived; you told us what happened, you helped us to hold to account those responsible, and we will remember, always, the horrific events of the Holocaust … Australia remains fiercely proud of the choice made by so many Holocaust survivors to find a place of peace and hope and trust and consolation inside Australia.

“This government will stand up and speak out in support of Judaism, in support of Israel’s sovereign rights and in support of the right of all of us to live in a society free from the outrages of physical or online antisemitism.”

As the pandemic descended upon Australia and caused mass disruption, Australia, New Zealand and Israel worked together to arrange “complex but really historic El Al flights”, through which citizens of these countries were repatriated.

Noting this development bodes well for the future, Payne commented, “We know it is technically feasible that linking the communities of Israel and Australia in one non-stop flight will bring to life the dream of a simple connection between our respective countries … The simplicity of unhindered international air travel is also one step closer for the Jewish people.”

In the aftermath of the release of Australian academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert from unjustified detention in Iran, Payne said it was “a great relief and a great joy to be able to see her return to Australia and to welcome that outcome”.

“We do see a disturbing pattern in Iran of academics and tourists of varying nationalities being arbitrarily detained, or detained on dubious charges.”

She added the government is eagerly awaiting Israel’s Supreme Court ruling on the appeal against alleged child sexual abuser Malka Leifer’s extradition, expected to be delivered within two weeks.

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