Julia Gillard, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia (and the first woman to serve as acting PM - while Our Kev was overseas) has built up her credibility since being appointed to the post. Attacks on her childless status and broad Aussie accent have rebounded on her conservative, Establishment critics. Indeed, she is widely seen as a future PM, clearly preferred to Rudd in a 2006 poll.
However, by agreeing to head a 40-strong delegation of politicians, academics, journalists and business types to Israel, organised by the Zionist lobby group, the "Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange", Ms Gillard's political timing has deserted her. Israel's government, under the extreme right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu, is on the nose with an increasing proportion of the Australian electorate. Perhaps Rudd, with his finely-honed political cunning, realises this and is throwing poor Julia to the wolves. No doubt he has seen it all and heard it all on his two previous expeditions to Israel, in 2002 and 2005.
After undergoing the usual brainwashing at the swank American Colony Hotel (first class all the way, folks) the delegation will, briefly, travel to meet the supine and innefectual PA leadership in Ramallah with, probably, an obligatory photo-op at Sderot to follow. What is certain is that they will not be travelling to Gaza to witness at first-hand the devastation, disembowelling and starvation wrought by their Israeli hosts.