Israel-diaspora ties get boost in UK conference

By Stephen Pollard, December 20, 2012

Some ideas are so obvious you wonder why no one thought of them before. The annual Australia Israel UK Leadership Dialogue is one of them.

Originally a meeting of Australian and Israeli leaders — defined as politicians, thinkers and journalists — the addition of UK delegates has lifted the two-day forum into a sort of Israeli Königswinter Conference.

This week’s meeting in London, at Portcullis House, was the most interesting so far. Graced with high-calibre Israelis — such as Ehud Olmert and Avi Dichter — and Australians including opposition leader Tony Abbott and a host of MPs and senators, the group grappled with issues such as Iran, the future of the two-state solution and the Arab Spring.

But as ever with these gatherings, much of the real value is in the conversations off-piste.

Israel has no more long-standing a friend than Australia and, at a time when diaspora views are increasingly dismissed as irrelevant and close allies are sometimes made to feel that their concerns are driven by hostility, it is encouraging that there are senior Israeli politicos who look outwards.

Last updated: 4:34pm, December 20 2012