Full text of Gillard’s speech to the Chamber

June 12, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce ahead of her visit to Israel. J-Wire publishes the text of what she said…

julia-gillard70“It is in that spirit that I will be travelling to Israel later this month to lead the Australian Delegation at the inaugural Australia Israel Leadership Forum.

I know that some of you will be joining me at that important gathering.

I would like to express my thanks to the AICC and to its Patron, His Excellency Yuval Rotem, the Israeli Ambassador to Australia, for their help in organising and facilitating elements of my visit and for their support for this Forum.

I know from my previous visit the intensity and diversity of Israel’s people, how their situation encourages innovation, commitment and lively democratic discussion of the issues facing the country and the world.

Israel is a country with much to teach us on issues such as scientific innovation and education and with much that we can share in addressing challenges like climate change and water security.

The first Australian Israel Leadership Forum will highlight both the strength and potential of the Australia-Israel relationship. It will provide an excellent opportunity to build stronger ties between our two nations and their people.

It will involve distinguished Australians from all walks of life travelling to Israel as part of our delegation. I am pleased and proud that my parliamentary colleagues Peter Costello, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis, Mike Kelly and Mark Dreyfus will be part of the group.

Senator Mark Arbib was also due to join us, but I regret that he is now unable to attend because of the otherwise happy development that he has joined the Ministry as Minister for Employment Participation. On Mark’s behalf, I am sorry that his new responsibilities prevent him from attending.  That said, I am glad that he will be working hard on employment participation while I am out of the country! I know he is looking forward to future opportunities to engage with Israel and the Jewish community.

The Forum is part of a wide-ranging festival and celebration of culture between our countries, G’Day, Shalom Salaam.  This festival includes the world premiere of the film Tackling Peace, which documents how a team of Palestinian and Israeli players travelled to Australia last August to participate in the Aussie Rules International Cup in Melbourne. It includes a performance by the celebrated Australian classical musician David Helfgott.  And it includes a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

During my visit to Israel I expect to hold meetings with senior members of the Israeli Government. I intend to reaffirm Australia’s ongoing support for Israel’s right to live in peace and security within defined borders. I will also reiterate that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East must be based on a two-state solution to the conflict.

I plan to visit Ramallah, on the West Bank and to meet leaders of the Palestinian Authority there. The Australian Government supports reform and institution-building in the Palestinian Territories, which is in the interests of Israel and the Palestinians.

Next week, before I arrive in Israel, I will be travelling to the United States to meet senior members of the Obama administration.

In recent weeks we’ve seen the efforts of a new and youthful American President to renew the world’s belief in the possibility of a more peaceful Middle East. President Obama’s Cairo speech was an important and positive intervention.

He reminded us that we share a responsibility across the world to strive for peace and for mutual respect between nations and cultures.

He said, “There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.”

A new American leadership, a new Israeli Government and a new period of cooperation in international affairs provide us with a fresh opportunity to seek peace and shared prosperity in our time. That is an opportunity that I am sure all of us wish to take…..”

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