As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to visit the White House on Monday, why does Israel have so much support in Washington, especially in Congress?

On this week's UpFront, Professor Alan Dershowitz debates former Congressman Brian Baird on the influence of the Israel lobby.

Mehdi Hasan also speaks to former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard about the country's controversial refugee policies and her current work with the Global Partnership for Education.

The Headliner: Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

As the Syrian humanitarian crisis continues to spiral out of control, what obligations do the world's richest countries have to aid those fleeing conflict and other crises? Australia, in particular, has been criticised for its "hardline" policies toward asylum seekers.

Among the primary criticisms is the country's policy to send refugees to offshore detention centres, including those on Nauru and Manus Island. Amnesty International, among other human rights groups, have called the conditions at these facilities "toxic" and "inhumane". Previous and current governments have disputed the allegations and have maintained that such policies are necessary to deter asylum seekers from attempting to come to Australia by boat.  

It was under Julia Gillard's leadership that these centres were reopened in 2012. While highly criticised, the former prime minister continues to defend her policies, telling Mehdi Hasan, "We took a set of decisions in a very difficult time… I stand by the decisions I made."

In this week's Headliner, Hasan challenges Gillard on Australia's controversial refugee policies. Gillard also discusses her current work with the Global Partnership for Education.

Editor's note: The interview with Julia Gillard was recorded during her recent visit to Washington DC

The Arena: Debating the pro-Israel lobby in the US

The pro-Israel lobby has been described by some as the most effective interest group "across the entire planet".

As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for his first visit to Washington since his controversial appearance before Congress in March, why does Israel command so much support in the US, especially in Congress? Is it thanks to the efforts of the pro-Israel lobby? Or is the lobby's influence overexaggerated?

In this week's Arena, Professor Alan Dershowitz debates former Democratic Congressman Brian Baird on the influence of the Israel lobby.

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Source: Al Jazeera