Marjorie O’Neill and Natalie Ward have been appointed co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel.

Carly Adno
The Australian Jewish News
June 8, 2023

Coogee Labor MP Marjorie O’Neill has been appointed co-chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel alongside Natalie Ward, with the Liberals’ deputy leader returning as co-chair of the group.

The NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel is a friendship group in the NSW State Parliament and serves as a formal conduit between the Parliament, Israel and the Jewish community.

O’Neill has been the Coogee MP since 2019 and has worked closely with the Jewish community in her electorate during the last four years.

“As co-chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, I am excited about the year ahead, and to work with members of the group, supporters of Israel and the Jewish community, and the broader community,” O’Neill said.

“We are particularly excited about organising a parliamentary visit to Israel, and bringing members of the NSW Parliament, who have never visited the country before.

“The group has hosted many international and distinguished visitors from Israel, including [from] government, universities and civil society institutions. The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies [JBD] is a member and is instrumental in assisting with Members of Parliament on study tours to Israel.

“The group has also held art exhibitions, including a collection of photographs of diplomats, whose courage in saving Jews from the Holocaust has earned them the recognition of being declared Righteous Among the Nations by Israel’s Holocaust authority, Yad Vashem. The exhibit was a project of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Embassy of Israel.”

Ward told The AJN she was “delighted” to re-establish the group in Parliament.

“Having been a former chair and [having] had the privilege of attending a study tour in Israel just prior to the Covid pandemic, I appreciate the importance of this group to honour our shared friendship, and stand with Israel and the Jewish community in NSW and around the world,” she said.

NSW JBD CEO Darren Bark said: “Our community is extremely fortunate to have the support and friendship of so many members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, and we warmly welcome Marjorie and Natalie’s appointments.

“Both have been longstanding supporters of Israel and the Jewish community, strongly calling out antisemitism wherever it appears in NSW and firmly standing with the Jewish State. We look forward to working with the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel on a range of initiatives and issues of importance, and to hosting a mission to Israel for MPs later this year.”