…and now to meet Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah

November 2, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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Malcolm Turnbull faced the Australian press in Israel ahead of his visit to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah telling them “I want to just restate the absolute commitment that Australia has to ensuring the territorial integrity, the peace and safety of the State of Israel”.

JOURNALIST:

Did you raise the issue of Israeli settlements with Prime Minister Netanyahu?

PRIME MINISTER:

Rami Hamdallah

Yes I have. We discussed the settlement issue and the peace process at some considerable length and I look forward to – as I have with other Israeli leaders during my visit – and I look forward to discussing that with the Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah later today.

JOURNALIST:

What did you say and do you see them as undermining the two-state solution?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Australia supports a two-state solution – that’s to say it is two states for two peoples.

Obviously, agreement has to be reached and the boundary line has to be agreed, but it’s not for us to draw that line, that is a matter to be negotiated between the parties. I look forward to-

JOURNALIST:

Do the settlements undermine that process?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I will – that is a matter between the two parties, where the lines are drawn. But they, obviously, it has to be negotiated.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, you are clearly quite good mates with Benjamin Netanyahu and have embraced him literally here in Jerusalem. Considering that the Israelis turned yesterday into some extent into a day of nationalism, flag waving on the streets of Beersheba, how does that fit into the context of you now going to the Palestinian authority and trying to engage them in a conversation about Australia’s policy for a two-state solution?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t see any conflict there at all. I don’t, I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make.

JOURNALIST:

Well a lot of the, with respect, a lot of the Palestinian families say that the role the Palestinians played in that battle was largely overlooked, that it was very much focused on this giving birth to the Israeli State when many Palestinians fought alongside the allied troops and hoped that they would perhaps have self-rule. So there is some concern about the extent that it was an Israeli event in that sense. What are your thoughts on that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Beersheba is an Israeli city. We are in the State of Israel. Israel are our hosts and we, they have been warm and generous hosts and I want to thank again the Prime Minister and the people of Israel for the very warm welcome they have given all of their Australian and New Zealand visitors.

JOURNALIST:

Do you accept that the West Bank is occupied?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, again, I have had some very productive discussions with the Prime Minister and other Israeli leaders and I look forward to discussing this with the Palestinian Prime Minister.

Now, just before we go, I just want to, I thought you might ask me about this, but I want to just restate the absolute commitment that Australia has to ensuring the territorial integrity, the peace and safety of the State of Israel.

This is a remarkable, a miraculous country. Its achievements are extraordinary in every respect. It faces overwhelming odds and yet it has prospered out of the darkness, the unspeakable darkness of the Holocaust and those oceans of tears, look at what has been created here in Israel – it is a great, this is a great achievement. It is a triumph of hope and determination and optimism and passion over the worst evil imaginable.

And we are very good friends. Our relationship, our collaboration gets closer all the time and I am very honoured to have been the first Prime Minister to visit Israel since, Australian Prime Minister, since 2000. And of course in this year, 2017, PM Netanyahu was the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Australia. So it is a great year in stronger and stronger relations between Australia and Israel.

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