Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called new elections for September 7, avoiding a clash with Yom Kippur.
Before Julia Gillard was ousted in late June from the top job, she had declared September 14 – Yom Kippur – as the date of the election.
But soon after Rudd replaced her he said the clash was a “massive inconvenience” to Jews.
Australia’s elections are always held on Saturdays, so Yom Kippur was not an extra burden for Orthodox Jews, who always pre-poll.
Rudd is head of the country’s Labor Party. The conservative Liberal Party is tipped to win the coming elections. Labor’s six-year term in office has taken its toll on bilateral relations with Israel, with critics citing the expulsion of a Mossad agent in Canberra in 2010, the alienation of Israel by Australia at the United Nations and the recent scandal surrounding “Prisoner X,” Melbourne-born Ben Zygier. Labor did strongly support Israel during its two recent showdowns with Hamas.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, head of the center-right Liberal Party of Australia, has pledged to return relations to the staunch support shown by John Howard during his 11-year rule. He has also cited Canada’s largely uncritical support as a benchmark to follow.
A Newspoll survey in late July had the Liberals edging the vote by 52 percent to 48 percent.