MELBOURNE (Jul. 23)
The Prime Minister’s Office has declined to comment on a report that Labor Party leader Bob Hawke and two Australian Jewish community figures were the targets of an assassination plot by a militant Palestinian organization in the mid-1970′s.
According to the report, the plot was foiled by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization whose agents infiltrated the Palestinian group. The group was not identified.
Hawke has been Prime Minister of Australia since March, 1983 when he defeated the Liberal Party government of Malcolm Fraser. At the time of the alleged assassination plot, about 10 years earlier, he was president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and an outspoken friend of Israel.
The two Australian Jews marked for killing were Isi Leibler, currently president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, co-chairman of the Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs and a member of the World Jewish Congress Executive; and Sam Lipski, a former Washington correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, presently Australian correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a former editor of the Australian/Israel Review, and a frequent contributor of the Australian press.
Liebler and Lipski were active proponents of Israel’s case in the Australian press and electronic media in the years following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Liebler, then president of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies, developed a close relationship with Hawke. Neither Liebler nor Lipski would comment.
The report of the alleged assassination plot was made by Laurie Oakes, a political journalist and Canberra commentator for the Australian Television Network, owned by publisher Rupert Murdoch.