Australian Jewish lawmaker chides PM over rapprochement with Iran

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — An Australian Jewish lawmaker called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to dump the nation’s current policy of rapprochement with Iran.

In a statement issued Monday, Michael Danby, a federal Labor member of parliament representing Melbourne Ports, said that Turnbull “can be a friend of Israel or a friend of the dangerous Iranian regime. He cannot be both.”

Danby has placed adverts in local media demanding Turnbull order Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to “halt and reverse this slide towards appeasement of the hardline, bellicose regime in Tehran.”

Bishop in recent months has visited Iran, signed an intelligence-secret sharing agreement with Iran, and apparently offered to allow Iranian consulates in Sydney and Melbourne.

On Sept. 23, Bishop met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. According to unconfirmed reports, she invited Zarif to visit Australia.

“Since the proposed nuclear deal with Iran, Australia and Julie Bishop have failed to respond, as they have in the past, to war-like announcements by Iran where Israel has been directly threatened,” Danby said.

In a statement, Bishop rejected the criticism and called on Danby to apologize for his “juvenile comments,” as she called them.

“The Australian government is a steadfast friend of Israel and reversed several U.N. voting positions of the former Labor government, of which Michael Danby was a member,” she said. “The government also rejects the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign supported by many within Labor and the union movement.”

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