MELBOURNE (Nov. 3)
Australia’s newly elected Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, declared that Israel would be assured of the firm commitment of his government “to Israel’s fundamental and non-negotiable right to live within secure and recognized boundaries.”
In his first statement on the Middle East since his reelection to government on Oct. 18, Fraser said the region was facing increasing instability, highlighting the difficulties of the West in maintaining its oil supplies. But there were “many strands” influencing events in the Middle East. “The difficulty in securing a just peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors is only one of those strands,” he added.
Fraser was speaking last week at a dinner in Melbourne organized by the Australian Association for the Weizmann Institute of Science. Former President of Israel, Prof. Ephraim Katzir, flew to Australia for the occasion which marked the endowment of the Malcolm Fraser Chair of Medical Biology, at the Weizmann institute.
The Chair has been endowed by friends and partners of the Association in order to honor Fraser’s continuing support for expanded bilateral relations with Israel, particularly in scientific, trade and cultural activities.
The dinner marked the first formal appearance in public by Fraser after his victory over the Labor Party leader, Bill Hayden, in the Oct. 18 poll. Although his coalition majority of 48 seats was cut back to 25 in the 125-seat House of Representatives, the Liberal Party leader confounded the opinion polls and pundits who had predicted he would lose the election to the Labor Party or win with only a handful of seats.
PAYS TRIBUTE TO WEIZMANN
In his speech accepting the new Chair in his name at the Weizmann Institute, Fraser paid tribute to Israel’s first President, Dr. Chaim Weizmann. “He was a visionary who saw no contradiction in the proposition that Israel could have territorial dignity and peace with the Arabs.” The beginnings of direct negotiation between Israel and Egypt presented “a challenge and responsibility that Dr. Weizmann would have relished.”
While assuring Israel that it would have Australia’s support for its right to secure boundaries, Fraser said his government also believed that no comprehensive peace would be possible without a recognition that “the Palestinians have a legitimate right to a homeland of their own alongside Israel’s.”
In his remarks, Fraser also emphasized the parallels between Australia and Israel in pioneering scientific research in areas of common interest such as solar energy and arid zone research. He said he was proud of the relations which had developed between Australia and Israel because both countries valued “individual freedom and parliamentary democracy.”