Aussie Jewish lawmakers clash over U.N. vote


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) –Two Jewish lawmakers in Australia are feuding over the country’s Palestine vote in the United Nations.

Labor’s Michael Danby, an ardent Israel defender since he first elected to parliament in 1998, lashed out at lawmaker Joshua Frydenberg in a speech last week as an "inexperienced Liberal Party operative" who was "point scoring" by using Israel for his own "political benefit."

Frydenberg, who was elected in 2010, sparked Danby’s ire when challenged the Labor government to vote against Palestinian statehood at the United Nations this week.

"Israel will survive these trying times and when it does, no doubt remember who was there when it counted,” said Frydenberg, a former political adviser.

Danby responded, ”It is in the interests of that community and Israel to have strong friends in both mainstream parties. Inexperienced Liberal Party operatives should not be cheap, shallow point-scoring as a battering ram for their own political benefit at the expense of that community. The issue is too important.”

Danby also told the House of Representatives that ”the Labor Party is and always will be a friend of the Australian Jewish community in Israel” and lauded Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent “principled and courageous” decision to withdraw from the upcoming Durban III conference at the United Nations.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd reportedly had advised the government to abstain from the Palestine vote, but Gillard’s office says no decision will be made until they see the text of the resolution.

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