21 April 2015

Jewish leaders question benefits of Julie Bishop's Iran talks

From The Australian, April 21, 2015, by Pia Akerman:

Australian Jewish leaders have questioned the benefits of Julie Bishop's visit to Iran.
                                
The Foreign Minister has left Tehran after talks with President Hassan Rouhani, highlighting a new agreement for the countries' intelligence agencies to share information on terrorism.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said there was a clear risk Iran had received all the benefits of the changed relationship with no apparent change in its aggressive stance towards its neighbours.
"From where we sit, there are lots of loose threads here," he said. "If this proves to be a step in genuine moderation of Iran, this will be seen in hindsight as a constructive visit, but there's no evidence whatsoever that that's the case."
Dr Rubenstein said Australia's allies may also hold concerns about the new intelligence-sharing arrangement and that the issue of returning Iranian asylum-seekers - a primary goal of the trip - had seemingly been rebuffed.

"It's not a revelation to say the Iranians know a lot about what's happening in Iraq, obviously they do, but my point would be that defeating a barbaric form of Sunni Islamic extremism in the form of Da'ish or Islamic State is not likely to be all that effective in terms of ultimate outcomes if you're relying on the foremost sponsor of Shi'ite radicalism and terrorism in the region..."...
"If that's who you're depending on and collaborating with, I'd say we're in a dangerous zone."
Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said it was unclear if Ms Bishop had raised anti-Semitism incited by Iran, but the intelligence-sharing needed to be seen in a broader context.
"We have confidence that the government will do everything reasonably possible to safeguard the interests of Australian citizens at home and abroad...If that means co-operating with the Iranian regime in relation to intelligence, we're not in a position to gainsay that."