Enter Rudd…exit Gillard

June 27, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Formerly deposed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who expelled an Israeli Mossad agent from Canberra in 2010, has been elected Labor Party leader and Prime Minister in a bid to avert a landslide defeat in the upcoming Federal election.

FM Kevin Rudd rt meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Kevin Rudd as Foreign Minister meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Party lawmakers in a 57-45 voted in favour of Rudd taking control of Labor. The federal election is scheduled for Sept. 14, which coincides with Yom Kippur.

The defeated former Prime Minister Gillard, a supporter of Israel during her three years in office, had called for a party leadership vote amid plunging polls and mounting evidence that Rudd is more popular.

Junior Cabinet minister Michael Danby, one of two Jews in government, as he was arriving for the vote that he would back Gillard. He has since told J-Wire that Prime Minister Rudd has asked him to retain his portfolio as Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts but Danby said: “This needs careful consideration and I will wait to see how things pan out before making a final decision.”

Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said that Gillard “was outstanding in her support of Israel, most notably during the operation in Gaza [in 2009] when she strongly asserted Israel’s rights to defend itself, when she stood by Israel with the first [U.N. General Assembly] vote on the Palestinians and her attempts (ultimately unsuccessful) to retain that position last year.”

Rudd, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010 before being deposed in a coup to install Gillard, told Jewish leaders during the 2007 election campaign that Israel is “in my DNA”.

Praise for Gillard came from the executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein. He told J-Wire: “We thank Julia Gillard for her unwavering and principled support for the Australian Jewish community and Israel during her term as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Her relationship with the Jewish community has always been warm, personal and heartfelt, and we look forward to continuing that friendship in whatever endeavours she chooses to pursue going forward.

We congratulate Kevin Rudd on returning to the leadership of the federal government. His solid support for Israel and the Jewish community in his previous term as Prime Minister, as well as his unequivocal opposition to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons capacity and his denunciation of the BDS campaign bodes well for the future. We trust he will also lend his authority to promoting the immediate resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority without preconditions, as consistently proposed by Foreign Minister Bob Carr.”

Rudd successfully led Australia’s bid for a temporary U.N. Security Council seat but was accused of compromising support for Israel in a bid to woo Arab votes.

A longtime supporter of Israel, Rudd said he was “not impressed” when it became clear that Australian passports were compromised in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January 2010. In response, his government expelled the Mossad agent from the embassy in the capital.

Bilateral relations also were strained earlier this year following revelations that Melbourne-born Ben Zygier was “Prisoner X,” the secret inmate who committed suicide in prison in 2010 after reportedly spilling secrets to Hezbollah. Zygier allegedly also was a Mossad agent.

While many government lawmakers face defeat in the federal election, Danby is running strong in his heavily Jewish seat in Melbourne and his Jewish parliamentary colleague, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, also is widely favored to keep his seat. Dreyfus has retained his position of Attorney-General in the government reshuffle.

Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, added: “The ZFA congratulates Mr Kevin Rudd on his elevation to the position of Prime Minister. We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Mr Rudd in the past and look forward to working with him and his team again in the future.

I also take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks on behalf of the community to Julia Gillard, who has been a staunch supporter of the Jewish community and of Israel.”

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