Independent federal Member for Goldstein Zoe Daniel recently returned from what she described as a “really worthwhile and very interesting trip” to Israel.
Daniel told The AJN that it was a “pivotal time to be there”, due to the “domestic situation”.
Daniel visited both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as part of an official parliamentary delegation.
“There was really good access to the Speaker of the Knesset, and various members of the Knesset, and a whole lot of civil society organisations and such that may not have been otherwise accessible,” she said.
The itinerary of the trip was extensive, allowing the delegation to immerse themselves in the region’s complexities. “We arrived on the Sunday and then we spent basically Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday with members of the Knesset … then we spent Thursday in the Palestinian territories,” Daniel said.
“I think from my perspective, as an independent, it was really interesting to talk to the members of the Knesset about … their coalition’s work because obviously, it’s very different from the operation of the Australian Parliament.
“We had the opportunity to speak with a few female members of the Knesset, which was interesting … they’re trying to advance women in leadership, which I think is, in some ways, quite challenging in the current iteration of the politics,” she mentioned.
The conversations during the trip were however “dominated”, by what has been happening in Israel “in terms of Judicial reform”, noted Daniel.
She said, “There were protests on the streets while we were there. So there was a lot of discussion, for example, with speaker [Amir] Ohana and he’s very much a supporter of those reforms.”
Approaching the visit without a preset agenda, Daniel emphasised her intent to grasp the intricate dynamics rather than advocate a particular viewpoint.
Regarding the judicial reforms Daniel said, “It’s more a case of trying to understand well, what are the arguments for it? Why are people opposing it? And then what potentially does that mean in terms of the stability of democracy in Israel?”
She did, however, note, “The fact that protests of that scale can take place largely peacefully and people feel comfortable expressing their opinions quite forcefully … is very positive, and healthy.”
When asked if there were any initiatives witnessed during the visit that has potential to be implemented in Australia, Daniel said the “cybersecurity initiatives that the Israeli government has … are very much on the cutting edge”.
“I think there is some really good learning to be done and some good collaboration on that.”