Monday, December 24, 2007

Dinner with Australian diplomats in Jerusalem

It's Friday 7 December, and we have just farewelled the Australian Ambassador to Israel, and the Australian Palestinian Representative, who were our guests at a reception at our hotel in Jerusalem tonight.

Ambassador James Larson, who lives in Tel Aviv, and Palestinian Representative Ben Scott, who lives in Jerusalem but whose office is based in Ramallah, briefed us on the Australian Government's view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They reflected, properly, the perspective inherited from the Howard Coalition government, since the new Rudd Labor Government has only been in office two weeks and understandably has many other national priorities. Their observations and judgments complemented what we have seen and heard in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

There are two Australian diplomatic representatives in the region because Israel is an internationally recognised state, whereas Palestine is not politically independent. The Ramallah office is much smaller than the Israeli office. It is my understanding that the Australian government strongly supports the two-state solution. More information is available at the Australian Embassy's website.

Pictures: Ambassador James Larson dining with our Australian delegation (top); Palestinian Representative Ben Scott explaining a point to delegates (middle); the group after dinner (bottom, L-R: Rev John Henderson, Rev Terence Corkin, Dr Kevin Bray, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, Ambassador James Larson, Representative Ben Scott, Rev Gregor Henderson, Rev Merrill Kitchen, Archbishop Frank Carroll, Rev Rod Benson, Lyndsay Farrell).

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