Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:37 AM
Purveyor (27,978 posts)
Israelís List of Friends Keeps Getting Shorter
When I made an appointment to see Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard last week, I hoped we would spend most of our time discussing her new effort to better integrate her country into Asia.
Gillardís pivot toward Asia, much like U.S. President Barack Obamaís, reflects the self-evident truth that China and its neighbors are her countryís biggest markets and the source of many of its new immigrants. Now the pivot has been paralyzed midrotation by events from that most unpromising corner of the world, the Middle East.
I saw Gillard in Canberra after one of her rougher weeks as prime minister. She was already being shellacked by the opposition, and by much of the news media, for her alleged involvement in a union scandal, the details of which are so convoluted that it is impossible for an outsider such as myself to discern exactly what she is accused of doing. (Suffice it to say the scandal has a Whitewater quality to it, just as Gillard has a certain pugnacious Hillary Clinton quality about her.)
The larger problem Gillard faced last week had to do with the vote at the United Nations to grant the nonstate of Palestine enhanced status. Gillard, who leads the pro-Israel wing of the Labor Party, was unable to rally her Cabinet to vote against the General Assembly resolution. The U.S. and Israel were counting on her to place Australia in the ďNoĒ column, but she got comprehensively rolled by a bloc of Cabinet members led by the foreign minister, Bob Carr, who had the backing of the esteemed former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
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