Former politicians meet Israel’s president ahead of his visit to Australia

October 30, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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President Reuven  Rivlin has welcomed a delegation of leading Australian political figures, past and present and headed by former prime minister John Howard, to the president’s home, Beit HaNasi.

Back: Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer, Australia’s ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan, Stephen Conroy, Brendan Nelson, Wayne Swan, Alex Downer, ZFA president Jeremy Leibler, Ginette Searle [CEO-ZFA] and Moriah Ben-David [ZFA] Front: John Howard and President Reuven Rivlin  Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO

The delegation is in Israel at the initiative of the Israeli Embassy in Canberra, together with the Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs and the Australian Jewish community including the Zionist Federation of Australia.

On Thursday, there will be ceremonies to mark the 102nd anniversary of the victory of the ANZAC forces, including the Desert Mounted Force and the Australian Light Horse in the capture of Beersheva during the First World War, a date of great historical significance.

President Reuven Rivlin and ZFA president Jeremy Leibler

President Rivlin said: “We have been close friends for 70 years now. Our friendship is based on the shared value of democracy, our shared history and on strong bipartisan support.”

He added that he was looking forward to his visit to Australia in early 2020, which has been in planning for a long time and represents an important additional step in the relations between the countries.

He continued, “Despite the huge geographical distance between Israel and Australia, we share many common challenges in different fields. The cooperation between us could lead to shared solutions. Two years ago, I was honoured to participate in the centenary celebrations of the ANZAC forces in the capture of Beersheva. That victory changed the face of the Middle East. And today, the region is facing geo-strategic changes and we are following them closely and with readiness.”

During the conversation, the representatives of the Australian Jewish community expressed the concern the community feels about the legal case of Malka Leifer. The president stressed he understood the gravity of the issue for the Australian public and added that it was painful for Israelis too. He also said that the relevant authorities at the State Prosecutor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Justice Ministry are of the opinion that extradition should be carried out as soon as possible and are doing all in their power to ensure that is the case. “The Israeli legal system is independent, but the State of Israel is doing everything possible to move the extradition forward,” the president said.

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