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News Brief


Australia would send troops to the West Bank to support an Israeli withdrawal, an official told Jews in Sydney.

Addressing Jewish leaders as part of the election campaign, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Wednesday that Australian troops would join an international force to prevent the territory from being overrun by terrorists if Israel withdrew from the area.

“If the Israeli Defense Forces withdrew from the West Bank, Hamas would just take over,” he said.

Downer’s comments appeared to be aimed at the upcoming peace summit in Maryland. But he was also assisting Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s re-election bid in Wentworth, the largest Jewish electorate in the country.

Turnbull, a strong supporter of Israel, is being challenged in the marginal seat by Labor’s George Newhouse, a human rights lawyer and high-profile member of the Jewish community.

Turnbull contrasted the Liberal government’s “rock solid” support for Israel with Labor’s position.

Labor still leads the Liberals in all the major polls ahead of the Nov. 24 election.

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