Diplomat calls on Israelis to root for Aussies at World Cup for support at UN
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Diplomat calls on Israelis to root for Aussies at World Cup for support at UN

Foreign Ministry official in charge of Asia-Pacific region thanks Australia for opposing resolution condemning Israel’s handling of Gaza clashes

Players from Australia's national soccer team attend a training session at the Kazan Arena on June 15, 2018, in Kazan, Russia, on the eve of the team's opening match against France. (AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)
Players from Australia's national soccer team attend a training session at the Kazan Arena on June 15, 2018, in Kazan, Russia, on the eve of the team's opening match against France. (AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)

A Foreign Ministry official on Friday called on Israelis to root for the Australian soccer team during this year’s World Cup, after Australia voted against a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Israel’s handling of violent protests on the Gaza border.

Australia was one of eight countries to vote against Wednesday’s resolution, which condemned Israel for using “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate” force during the Gaza border clashes and called for an “international protection mechanism” for Palestinian civilians.

“We have a lot of friends at the bilateral level, but when it comes to the UN arena they disappear. The Australians are not afraid to come and say Israel is right,” Gilad Cohen, Foreign Ministry deputy director general for Asia and the Pacific, told the Ynet news site.

“Once again we thank our friends in Australia that voted against another one-sided anti-Israel resolution at the General Assembly. The people of Israel deeply appreciate the true friendship between Israel and Australia,” he added.

Gilad Cohen, Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific, at the Foreign Ministry In Jerusalem. (Courtesy/MFA)

Cohen said that while he usually roots for soccer power Brazil as his children were born there while he was stationed in the country, “this World Cup my support moved from the yellow of Brazil to the yellow of Australia.”

“I really think we need to cheer for them in the World Cup,” Cohen said.

Australia, whose soccer team is ranked 36th in the world by FIFA, plays its first game of the World Cup on Saturday against France.

The UN General Assembly voting on a resolution on the recent Gaza protests, June 13, 2018 (screen shot UN)

Along with the General Assembly vote, Australia was the only country besides the United States to oppose the UN Human Rights Council’s recent establishment of an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during the violent protests on the border.

Israel has accused Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, of using the clashes to carry out attacks and attempt to breach the security fence.

In Wednesday’s resolution Australia, the US, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo and the Solomon Islands were the other countries to vote against it.

Cohen also thanked the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Togo. Diplomatic relations with Australia and the four countries are handled by the Foreign Ministry’s Asia and the Pacific division.

“Your voice of truth is highly appreciated,” Cohen tweeted.

With his declaration of support for Australia, Cohen became the latest Foreign Ministry official to weigh in on their preferred choice for this year’s World Cup in light of Israel’s absence from the tournament.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon voiced his support for neighboring Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a tweet, while Israel’s embassy in Argentina said it will still root for the Argentinian squad despite its cancellation of a friendly match in Israel last week amid threats to players after the game was moved to Jerusalem from Haifa.

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