Australian leader’s ‘miracle’ win is good news for Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the first to call to congratulate the pro-Israel leader.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Liberal leader Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition is set to govern for a third term after pulling off a win against all odds in national elections on Saturday.

Although only 70 percent of the votes were counted by Sunday morning, rival Labor leader Bill Shorten has already conceded defeat. His party had only won 66 seats out of the 151-seat legislature, while the ruling coalition has won or is ahead in 74 seats.

The only question seemingly left is whether the Liberal-led Conservatives will get an outright majority of 76, or have to bring a small party of independents into their coalition.

A record 16.4 million people turned out to vote, and exit polls had seemingly confirmed that Morrison was done, after his government had undergone two years of trailing in opinion polls. But, like in the American elections in 2016, the polls – and the pundits, who called it an “unlosable” election for the center-left — were wrong.

In his victory speech, the 51-year-old politician said, “I have always believed in miracles,” and called the triumph a win for “the quiet Australians.”

President Trump was one of the first world leaders to call the Australian leader to congratulate him. So was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is himself no stranger to successful elections after conventional wisdom or mainstream media counted him out.

Morrison is considered a pro-Israel leader and under his leadership Australia has had Israel’s back in the United Nations.

In October, Canberra joined the U.S. and Israel as the only ones to vote against the Palestinian Authority chairing the Group of 77, the biggest bloc of nations in the UN.

And in November, it voted “no” on six anti-Israel resolutions put forward at the General Assembly.

Most recently, in March, Australia voted against a U.N. Human Rights Council report accusing Israel of crimes against humanity in its defense against attacks from Gaza.

Morrison had made noises about following Trump’s lead in moving Australia’s Embassy to Jerusalem, but then only recognized the western part of Jerusalem in December last year.

In March, Canberra opened a Trade and Defense Office in the western part of Israel’s capital, but a spokesperson stated that it had no formal diplomatic status, and there was no official ceremony to inaugurate it.

In contrast, Labor’s Shorten declared that he would seek to cancel the recognition of even west Jerusalem.