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Wednesday, 17 November 1976
Page: 2760

Mr CHIPP (HOTHAM, VICTORIA) -I draw to the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs reports that Israel might be excluded from participation in the European Group of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Can the Minister advise the House whether this is so? If it is so, what action does Australia propose to take about this matter?

Mr PEACOCK -The Government would deplore Israel being kept out of the group of its choice in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It will be recalled that the UNESCO General Conference meeting in Nairobi from 26 October through to the end of this month, has under consideration an application by Israel for membership of the European Group. Australia strongly supports acceptance of all applications for membership of UNESCO's regional groups for program purposes. We consider that countries should be free to join in appropriate groupings and that the composition of the grouping should be left to the members of the group concerned. When the list of members of regional groups for program purposes was considered at the last conference in 1974, a proposal to include Israel in the European Group was not adopted.

It might be wise to recall that on that occasion Australia was not then, as it is now, a member of the Asian Group but was a member of the European Group. The vote on the question of Israel's admission into the European Group was deadlocked 30 in favour and 30 against. The Australian Labor Government of that time abstained from that vote. As a consequence Israel was subsequently not admitted to the European Group when the vote was taken because the Group had not made a recommendation in favour of Israel's admission. Australia is not now a member of the European Group. It is in the

Asian Group. But we strongly support Israel's right to participate in bodies such as this and we hope that the European Group will signify its acceptance of Israel's application to join its region. Australia, as I say, although a member of the Asian group in this context, would strongly support such an outcome, in contrast to what occurred in 1974.

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