Downer Offers To Send Troops To West Bank To Fight Hamas
Foreign Minister Alexander has taken it upon himself to pledge Australia's 'absolute commitment' to Israel, regardless of what kind of collective punishment it unleashes on the Palestinians, and he has also offered to send Australian troops into the West Bank to stop a predicted takeover attempt by Hamas, the democratically elected government of the Palestinian territories.
Downer made these commitments as the Howard government faces defeat at the national elections on November 24.
Downer claims an international 'buffer force' will be necessary in the West Bank in the event of a withdrawal by Israel to stop Hamas from attempting to take back control of the area from Fatah.
Downer told a Sydney audience of Jewish leaders, including 20 rabbis, that he didn't believe most Palestinians would support a deal peace between Israel and the leaders of the West Bank.
"If the Israeli defence forces withdrew from the West Bank, Hamas will just take over," Mr Downer said.
"In the end, there has to be some international force to prop up a Palestinian State. If the international community was looking for troops to support a peace agreement which provided for the security of Israel and a Palestinian state, we would be prepared to send some troops to help," he said.
Mr Downer gave his speech to a gathering of the top echelon of Sydney's Jewish community, including 20 rabbis. He was invited by Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is trying to woo the large Jewish community in his marginal seat of Wentworth in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.
Mr Turnbull and Mr Downer yesterday engaged in a whirlwind lobbying exercise of Jewish institutions in the electorate.
The pair visited the Orthodox Jewish Moriah College, where Mr Downer addressed students, proclaiming his Government's absolute commitment to Israel.
Later, he held an interview with the influential Australian Jewish News before moving to the elite venue of the Royal Motor Yacht Club to deliver his address last night to a rapturous audience.
Both Mr Turnbull and Mr Downer sought to draw a distinction between what Mr Turnbull called the Coalition's "rock solid" backing of the Jewish state and what they presented as Labor's more ambivalent position.
'Ambivalent position' presumably translates as not pledging a "rock solid" 'absolute commitment' to Israel, regardless of future events, or actions taken by the Olmert government that could be deemed illegal by the UN Security Council.
But then Downer is no fan of the United Nations, what with its petty demands for recognition of international borders and its opposition to torture, collective punishment, the illegal seizure of land and territory and its calls for Israel's army to exercise restraint and to stop its acts of random violence in Palestine and the killing of Palestinian women and children.