update deskIsrael at War

Ex-Australian PM to JNS: Talk of Palestinian state does not represent country

Tony Abbott condemned the “appalling antisemitism that we have seen [in Australia] all too often over the last six months."

Former Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott in 2014. Credit: U.S. Department of State.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong was not representing most of her country’s citizens when she said that recognizing a Palestinian state would not constitute a reward for Israel’s enemies, former Australian premier Tony Abbott told JNS on Thursday.

“Historically, Australia has been a very staunch supporter of Israel. I think that overwhelmingly the Australian people understand that Israel faces an existential threat from Iran and also from these apocalyptic death cults, like Hamas. Therefore, it’s right for Israel to seek the utter destruction of Hamas,” said Abbott.

“Obviously, it’s deeply regrettable that there are heavy casualties in the process of doing that. When you are fighting an enemy who hides behind women and children and uses civilians as human shields this is the tragic result. Hamas is to blame for the deaths,” he added.

Abbott spoke to JNS on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference Hungary 2024. World leaders, decision-makers and influencers have converged on Budapest to participate in the conference hosted by the Center for Fundamental Rights.

Earlier this month, Wong contended that Jerusalem’s assertion that recognizing a Palestinian state at this time would be tantamount to rewarding Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre was incorrect.

“There are always those who claim recognition is rewarding an enemy. This is wrong. First, because Israel’s own security depends on a two-state solution. Second, because there is no role for Hamas in a future Palestinian state,” she said.

Abbott also took the current Australian government to task for its decision to resume use of the term “occupied Palestinian territories” in reference to eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, reversing unofficial policy in place for almost 10 years.

“I don’t use that term myself. I normally talk about the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority, although the P.A. doesn’t always exercise very effective control over it,” noted Abbott.

“I think it’s right and proper for countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. If it were up to me, we would move our embassy to western Jerusalem” he added. 

The former premier then poured cold water on the notion that Australia was no longer safe for Jews, despite a 591% increase in antisemitism in the country in the seven weeks following Oct. 7.

“I can understand why there is considerable apprehension amongst Jews in Australia at this upsurge of antisemitism and the protests which have erupted since Oct. 7. For instance, Oct. 9 was a day of infamy in the life of our country. It was appalling. Footage of that ugly crowd rejoicing in the atrocities perpetrated against Jewish people in Israel got around,” explained Abbott.

He was referring to a gathering outside the Sydney Opera House in which a pro-Hamas mob chanted “gas the Jews,” and “F*** the Jews” as they waved Palestinian flags.

“I just wish the police in our country was much better at enforcing the laws against hate speech and much quicker to crack down on the kind of appalling antisemitism that we have seen articulated all too often over the last six months,” said Abbott.

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