The Australian government is stalling its decision on whether or not it will greenlight the export of military weapons and equipment to Israel.
This was reported by public broadcaster ABC News, saying the administration of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is worried that either approving or rejecting the request would draw backlash.
According to Australian industry sources, Israel has requested counter-drone systems and other military technology from Canberra to bolster its air defense capabilities amid ongoing conflicts with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in the north.
However, ABC claimed that the Australian Department of Defence has been ignoring the requests “for months.”
“There appears to be a deliberate ‘go slow’ happening on anything to do with Israel while the war in Gaza continues,” a defense insider told the outlet. “Nobody in the government wants to be seen to be either approving or rejecting Israeli military sales.”
Foreign Minister ‘Partly Responsible’
The report said it is difficult to determine where precisely the delays are occurring due to Canberra’s “stringent” weapons export licensing process.
However, defense sources blamed Foreign Minister Penny Wong as partly responsible for the stalled decision.
“I think [the department] is wedged on this because the government will be saying they are not approving military exports to Israel but also telling [the DoD] to not process them,” another industry source claimed.
A spokesperson for the foreign minister declined to comment directly on the allegation, but said Australia has not supplied weapons to Israel since the conflict began.
The DoD also reportedly wanted to ensure that its weapons and equipment are used responsibly outside Australia “in ways that do not violate human rights.”
Concerns About Arms Flow to Israel
Several organizations have called on countries to stop sending military aid to Israel over fears that more civilians will die.
The European Network Against Arms Trade has called on European nations to declare a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties in the conflict.
It argued that European countries are some of Israel’s main suppliers of weapons, licensing “around two billion euros ($2.2 billion) of military contracts” to the Middle Eastern nation in the last 10 years.
The US government has also faced growing pressure from rights groups and lawmakers over its provision of weapons to Jerusalem, given the spiraling death toll in Gaza.
As of January 2024, more than 22,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza; most are women and children.