The Israeli government is investigating claims its ambassador to Australia referred to the two countries as being white 'sisters' amid the 'yellow race' of Asia. Naftali Tamir allegedly referred to Asians as people with 'yellow skin and slanted eyes' in an Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday. He was en route to Jerusalem yesterday having been recalled by the government, and is expected to be summoned to Israel's ministry of foreign affairs today. He reportedly told the paper: 'Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia. We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don't have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not - we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side. 'Israel has not fully acknowledged the value of working together with Australia in Asia. It's a way for us to co-operate with and enhance our position in the countries neighbouring Australia.' Mr Tamir - who is also envoy to Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand - said that while Israel had a past and present in Europe, it had 'no future ... Israel is a part of Asia'. Australia is one of Israel's staunchest supporters and the outburst, if confirmed accurate, is likely to embarrass the government of Prime Minister John Howard. Acting Israeli ambassador in Canberra, Irit Lillian, said Mr Tamir should not be condemned until it could be proved he had not been misquoted. The Australian government has refused to comment, but the opposition Labor Party's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, said that if confirmed, the comments were unacceptable.