Liberal and Labor politicians unite to have Malka Leifer extradited from Israel to face child abuse charges

Former ambassador to Israel turned Liberal MP Dave Sharma has warned the ongoing delay in the extradition of alleged child abuser Malka Leifer from Israel to Australia is "becoming an irritant" in the relationship between the two countries.

Mr Sharma and Labor MP Josh Burns have joined forces with two of the former Melbourne principal's alleged victims, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, to lobby Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ramp up diplomatic pressure on Israel over the long-running case.

Ms Leifer, 52, faces 74 counts of sexual assault in Victoria relating to her time as headmaster of the Adass Israel School between 2001 and 2008.

She has been fighting to stay in Israel, claiming she is mentally ill, since Australia issued an extradition request in 2014.

"I just think we have a good and productive relationship with Israel, but this is increasingly becoming an irritant and is increasingly becoming a focal point in the relationship," said Mr Sharma, who first raised the issue when he was ambassador to Israel.

"To state the obvious, when this is in the news all the time ... it affects Israel's reputation in Australia, and it affects the way we interact.

"I've said this publicly before, it does threaten to have an impact on our relationship."

Ms Erlich and Ms Meyer urged Mr Morrison to raise the issue with the Israeli Government, as soon as one is formed following inconclusive election results in September.

"This has taken a tremendous toll on both of our lives, travelling back and forth, not seeing any results, the frustrations, knowing at some point that [Ms Leifer] might get bail, it has had an emotional toll on our lives," Ms Erlich said.

"We're trying to give a message to all survivors that even if you have been abused, life can go on, justice should be served, and we no longer need to sweep it under the carpet, and we want to stand strong on behalf of all others, not just ourselves," Ms Meyer added.

The pair will also meet with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and senior ministers while in Canberra.

The Prime Minister has raised the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Foreign Minister Marise Payne discussed the case with her counterpart at the United Nation's last month.

Shared frustration in Australia and Israel

Mr Sharma said there was a sense in Israel the case had been mishandled.

"If you look at what the Supreme Court Justice in Israel said just a couple of weeks ago on this case, she expressed frustration how the lower courts had been handling this process," he argued.

"That Ms Leifer's defence counsel claims of mental instability had been allowed to prolong and frustrate what should have been a straightforward process.

"So I think this frustration is shared within the Israeli legal system, it certainly is within the Israeli Department of Justice and within the Supreme Court itself."

Labor MP Josh Burns, whose electorate of Macnamara includes the Adass Israel School, said the Australian community backed the campaign to get Ms Leifer to face justice in Victoria.

"It has been almost a decade since Malka Leifer has fled Australia and this has to end," he said.

"Enough is enough.

"We send a clear message to our friends and counterparts in Israel that we will not rest, that we as Australians on both sides of the house, will not rest until Malka Leifer is returned to Australia."


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