Cocktail reception for former Australian political leaders in Israel

October 30, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The highest calibre delegation of Australian political alumni ever to visit Israel was honoured on Tuesday evening at a cocktail reception hosted by the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce.

The delegation and guests including UIA’s Steven Lowy, Jewish Agency’s Israel Herzog and Yuval Rotem, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The delegation, in Israel with the ZFA and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a five-day program of meetings and activities, comprises:

  • John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia
  • Wayne Swan, former Treasurer of Australia
  • Alexander Downer, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
  • Stephen Conroy, former Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy, an
  • Dr Brendan Nelson, former Minister for Defence and former Ambassador to Belgium.

Jeremy Leibler

Welcoming guests to the function at the Begin Centre in Jerusalem, President of the ZFA Jeremy Leibler described the delegation as a select group of Australians who have, during their illustrious careers, helped to build and reinforce the relationship between two countries, united by their common morality and ideals.

“In the various political portfolios they have held, across successive Australian governments of different political persuasions, each member of our delegation has made, and faithfully fulfilled, a commitment to the Australian Jewish community and to Israel.”

The historic first delegation, co-hosted by the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Embassy of Israel in Australia, met with political leaders including President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz and with senior representatives of the Palestinian Authority.

John Howard

They visited Yad Vashem, the Supreme Court of Justice and Hadassah Hospital, and toured a number of Israel’s most successful entrepreneurial, high-tech and innovative enterprises.

During his address, John Howard mentioned the work done by projects such as Project Rozana exhibiting the cooperation between  Israelis and Palestinians.

He said: “That we look at a time in the future when the relations between the Israelis and the Palestinian people are on a better plane than they are in the present time. In order to that be achieved, there has to be a willingness on the part of the both sides of that debate to make concessions. In my experience, particularly when I was Prime Minister, was that the successive Israeli governments, one under Ehud Barak and the other Ehud Olmert, went out of their way to meet the legitimate requests of the Palestinian people and I can only hope that some time and in some set of circumstances, it may be possible to have that realised. I have seen some wonderful examples today at the Hadassah Hospital of the cooperation at the most basic level of decent humanity of the people of the Palestinian territories and the people of Israel and that was an example to the governments of the world and to the leaders of the territories and of course the State of Israel. for theed of cooperation and understanding.”


On Thursday, the group will take part in commemorations of the anniversary of the Battle of the Light Horse Brigade in Beer Sheva, with Mr. Howard and Mr. Swan both giving speeches at this year’s annual ceremony.

Summing up the purpose of the visit, ZFA CEO Ginette Searle described it as “an invaluable opportunity to bring people together who have made significant contributions to the relationship between Australia and Israel.”

“The delegates have valued the opportunity to hear from high-level experts in various fields including politics and security, exploring the latest innovations in technology and social enterprise and engaging on multiple issues where our respective nations have important long term or evolving connections.”


One Response to “Cocktail reception for former Australian political leaders in Israel”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    After this visit to Israel I wonder if John Howard and Alexander Downer will drop into Iraq to see how that country is going post invasion. Howard and Co supported the 2003 invasion along with Tony Blair and George “Dubya” Bush and his cronies. Now nothing much works in Iraq after Saddams government was overthrown by the invasion.

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