Netanyahu: a lunch for business leaders “We love Australia”

February 23, 2017 by J-Wire News Service
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was joined by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Leader of Opposition Bill Shorten at a lunch attended by Australian and Israeli business people.

Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Malcolm Turnbull       Photo:  Haim Zac/GPO

Benjamin Netanyahu said “When I colour the map, I colour Australia in the same colour as the United States”. He added: “We value Australia. We love Australia.”

Among the 325 guests at the International Convention Centre in Sydney MC’d by Mark Leibler, the chairman of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council were former Prime Minister John Howard, Australia’s ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma, Israel’s ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel and a former ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem now Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Malcolm Turnbull said it is Netanyahu’s third visit but his first as a serving Israeli Prime Minister and the first Prime Minister of Israel in office to come to Australia.

In his speech, Turnbull reiterated Australia’s support for the two state solution adding “not simply seek peace but pursue it” and declaring “we stand with Israel as we always have – an all-weather friend, as committed as we are consistent” and “my Government will not support one-sided resolutions criticising Israel of the kind recently adopted by Security Council”.

Talking of Australia’s Jewish community, Turnbull said: “I thank them for helping make our remarkable nation what it is today”.

Bill Shorten agreed with Turnbull on the strong ties between Australia and Israel saying  “at crucial times, Australia may have even been arguably been pivotal in Israeli history”.  And as a friend of Israel, as a supporter of peace in the region, certainly, my party believes in a two-state solution”. Shorten also focused on the necessity of combating anti-Semitism.

He added: “We expect the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel’s legitimate right to security. Of course we acknowledge the people of Palestine’s legitimate aspirations, for a state of their own.”


Turnbull’s speech:

“Australia and Israel are firm friends, a relationship forged in the crucible of history, anchored in shared values, buttressed by strong community ties and given vitality by the optimism and the enterprise of our two young nations – we both know our best years are ahead of us.

It is almost 100 years since the charge of the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade captured the town of Beersheba from the Ottoman Turks in the fading daylight of the 31st of October 1917.

Malcolm Turnbull Photo: Ben Apfelbaum

This year, in October, we will be commemorating that event, coinciding with the 100-year anniversary, in recognition of its role as one of the foundations of our relationship.

And then, in 1947, so determined was our foreign minister HV Evatt to see the UN’s partition resolution carried that Australia has been described as a midwife at the birth of the State of Israel.

Our two nations share a commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

And we share the rich cultural inheritance of the Bible which has formed and framed our values, our history, our literature.

Both our nations are successful multicultural societies – immigration nations.

Now, many are quick to point out Israel’s shortcomings – none more so than Israelis perhaps – but we should never forget that the establishment and maintenance of this remarkable nation, threatened with destruction again and again, is truly a modern miracle.

And in a region where freedom and the rule of law is rarely found, Israel continues to maintain its robust democracy with a free press and a culture which would always prefer to challenge, rather than defer to authority.

The threats Israel faces, not only to its existence, but to its very right to exist, are all too real.

What other nation in the world is confronted with such a challenge not just to its borders, but to its very legitimacy.

Australia supports Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens, within secure borders so that they can enjoy the peace for which its people yearn.

Indeed, with Australian Defence Force personnel serving as UN peacekeepers along three of Israel’s borders, and having done so for many years, our commitment to Israel’s security is tangible and resolute.

We want to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians, through a negotiated, two-state solution.

But we recognise that a durable settlement can only be achieved if the security of Israel is assured.

Used to the vastness of our continent, Australians are always shocked to see how small a space Israel occupies, how tenaciously it stands, back to the sea, a stone’s throw from its foes.

Our hope is that Israelis and Palestinians alike will, in the words of the 34th Psalm, not simply seek peace, but pursue it.

And this time, may be a good opportunity to do so, with so many larger and more intractable conflicts in the region, and with Israel’s contribution to regional stability more widely recognised.

We stand with Israel as we always have – an all-weather friend, as committed as we are consistent.

My Government will not support one-sided resolutions criticising Israel of the kind recently adopted by Security Council.

And we deplore the boycott campaigns which are designed to de-legitimise the Jewish State.

In addition to the peacekeepers on Israel’s borders, our forces are making, as you know, a substantial contribution to the coalition effort to destroy ISIL, Daesh and its so called caliphate.

We look forward to continuing and enhancing our defence and security engagement.

And both of us have committed to strong cyber security strategies, key elements in our national security, just as it is in delivering the resilience and integrity of all the digital platforms on which our 21st century economies are built.

Now Bibi and I first met in Israel in 2004 where I had been meeting with leaders in technology, science and investment.

Whether it was the elaborate water system of Herod’s fortress on Masada or the desalination plant at Ashkelon, whether it was the ancient streets of old Jerusalem or the boardrooms of Tel Aviv, I could see that throughout its history the greatest natural resource of Israel has been the brilliance and the enterprise of its people.

And perhaps in this century more than ever.

So we have been delighted, as Prime Ministers, to further expand the strong people to people links between our nations.

We have already seen a bilateral agreement to enhance air links and welcomed a Working Holiday Visa arrangement that promotes greater flows of our young people visiting each other’s country.

If plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, Israel should be very flattered as all of us seek to emulate the innovation success of Israel – the original Start Up Nation.

Indeed, we didn’t just buy the book – we put the author on the board of Innovation and Science Australia!

That’s why my Government has established an innovation Landing Pad in Tel Aviv – the second of five that we have established globally – which is helping Australian entrepreneurs and investors connect with Israel’s deep innovation ecosystem and otherwise soak up the chutzpah, the readiness to challenge authority, that is as thoroughly Israeli as it is Australian.

And not just start ups, giants including Telstra, CBA and NAB, for example, have all established partnerships in Israel in order to stay abreast of, and invest in, emerging and disruptive technologies.

We will strengthen these links when we sign an agreement on Technological Innovation and Research and Development, providing a framework for our scientists, engineers and businesses to create the jobs and industries of the future.

Israel, for example, represents one of the more important export markets for Australian-made Cochlear ear implants in absolute terms, due to the subsidies made available by the Israeli Government.

Australian venture capital firm Square Peg Capital set up an office in Israel in late 2015, to lead a $60 million investment round into Tel Aviv-based Fiverr, a global online marketplace.

And we’ve already, Bibi and I, have already spoken to a number of Australian business leaders who are investing in Israel and who are bringing Israeli partners to invest here.

Many Israeli companies are playing an increasing role in our technology ecosystem.

Checkpoint—inventors of the firewall.

Business intelligence specialists, Verint.

And of course, with water, one of my great passions, Netafim, who pioneered drip irrigation.

Solar hot water company, Chromagen and water conservation and management experts, Takadu.

Medical research, so important to the future of us all, so important to the lives of Israelis and Australians and indeed people all around the world.

Giants, the Garvan Institute and the Weizmann Institute have partnered to established a centre for cellular genomics in Darlinghurst which will open this year.

And the Hebrew University and the Universities of Sydney and New South Wales have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on medicinal cannabis research. And you will have seen the announcement that the government there in that very important issue today.

Now, Prime Minister, I know that one of the greatest imperatives of the Jewish tradition is tikkun olam – the obligation of every person to seek to make the world a better place.

And you could not imagine modern Australia without the brilliance, the enterprise and the generosity of Jewish Australians so many of whom are here today.

Whether it is literature or science, politics or law, business or medicine, art or war, Jewish Australians have made a contribution vastly out of proportion to their small numbers.

And none more so than Sir John Monash, born in Melbourne, the son of Polish Jewish parents, migrants to Australia.

The finest general on the Western front, Montgomery called him.

100 years ago next July, and for the first time, Australian and American troops went into battle together, at a place called Hamel – they were led by Monash. His brilliance secured the victory which turned the tide to end the Great War.

In your presence, Prime Minister, I salute our Jewish community and I thank them for helping make our remarkable nation what it is today.

Thousands of miles separate Australia and Israel, but the ties that bind, the values we share, embodied here, in this great assembly, bring our nations closer together than ever.

And I will add just one final word from the 122nd Psalm – Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”

Bill Shorten agreed with Turnbull on the strong ties between Australia and Israel saying  “at crucial times, Australia may have even been arguably been pivotal in Israeli history”.  And as a friend of Israel, as a supporter of peace in the region, certainly, my party believes in a two-state solution”. Shorten also focused on the necessity of combating anti-Semitism.

He added: “We expect the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel’s legitimate right to security. Of course we acknowledge the people of Palestine’s legitimate aspirations, for a state of their own.”

Shorten’s address:

We are all familiar with 29 November 1947, in New York, when then Australian Labor Foreign Minister H.V. Evatt cast the first vote in favour of the formation of the modern state of Israel.

Bill Shorten Photo: Ben Apfelbaum

But I’d like us to consider another date which was arguably pivotal too.

It was, as we have heard, on 31 October 1917, when the 4th Light Horse Brigade of the Australian military, smashed Ottoman lines at Beersheba.

What is perhaps a little less well known in Australia, is that one of the reasons why we were able to carry out one of the great, marvellous cavalry charges of the 21th Century, was due to the work of a young Romanian Jewish settler, in the then-Palestine part of the Ottoman Empire – Aaron Aaronsohn.

He was a botanist and an agronomist, but he and a small network of like-minded Jewish settlers, put the case to the Allied Command, and to General Allenby, that rather than the Allies proceed up the sea road to the formidable entrenched defences of Gaza, he said there were a series of oases which could outflank the Ottomans.

As we know, the rest of history happened.

That the Australians, through that series of oases, led to make that valiant charge of Beersheba, which is arguably the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire.

But what I think particularly makes that date, 31 October 1917 so interesting, is it was just three days before a most significant date in the formation of the State of Israel –  I speak of the Balfour Declaration.

Perhaps there is a new strain of Australian history to investigate: whether our charge at Beersheba was the tipping point for British colonial authorities to finally do the deal which lead to the formation of Israel.

And our history remains equally entwined 100 years on.

We understand that what happens in Israel, and the region of the Middle East, still matters to Australia despite our distance.

It matters to our prosperity and it matters to our security.

We know that Israel understands the menace of ISIS.

I suspect no nation does ISIS intelligence like Israel, and I cannot imagine how we would adequately prevent the spread of ISIS and similar extreme ideologies if Israel wasn’t Israel.

As much as we have our challenges in our foreign policy in Australia, we do not share the neighbourhood that you share.

For instance, we do not underestimate in this country, the difficulty of neighbouring regimes, such as Iran.

Now I understand Mr Prime Minister, that you’ve been a former Opposition Leader yourself, in fact I take some pleasure in it, you’d appreciate there are times when you disagree with the Prime Minister of the day – sometimes more colourfully.

But there is a fundamental point of agreement in this country between the Prime Minister and myself – and between our parties for many decades.

It is our strong support for the right of the people of Israel to live in peace, within secure borders.

And equally strong is our condemnation not just of the BDS movement as Malcolm has said, but in this country too, we must vigilant against the spread of anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism is not a curse or a virus of the pages of history, it is something we must combat now.

And together, our mainstream political parties must stand up against those on the far-left or the far-right who would promulgate anti-Semitism.

And as a friend of Israel, as a supporter of peace in the region, certainly, my party believes in a two-state solution.

We expect the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel’s legitimate right to security.

Of course we acknowledge the people of Palestine’s legitimate aspirations, for a state of their own.

This will take leadership from both sides.

As I have said before, it will require dealing with some of the roadblocks to peace: from settlements to land swaps, to fundamental propositions such as security and borders.

There is a role here for nations in the region: Jordan, Egypt, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia amongst others.

And we cannot be naive in Australia, we must acknowledge the impediment to peace that the intransigence of the Hamas leadership presents – and the divisions between them and the Palestinian Authority.

Put simply: everyone’s short-term, medium-term and long-term interests are best served by finding a way to peace.

I know there are different views about different paths – from Washington to the United Nations.

But I have found in life more often than not, the most direct way is best.

Which is why we urge all parties to continue and return to direct negotiations to settle final status issues – refraining from actions that would jeopardise this.

It is said, quite correctly, that in its region, Israel is an island of progress – but we would all prefer it was not an island.

The more we can do to make the Middle East safe from Islamist extremism – the easier it becomes to deliver a two-state solution.

Mr Prime Minister, so much has been said about the economic success of your nation.

·            20 per cent of the world’s cyber security investment.
·            A global leader in water and agribusiness, in technology and research.
·            500 start-ups in the automotive industry alone.

And all of this with so few natural resources. This disadvantage that has led some to wonder if Moses was a great leader but a terrible navigator.

With new wealth flowing from Israel’s off-shore natural gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, it may be too late for Moses to claim the royalties, but not too late to acknowledge his foresight.

I think that if there is one question everyone which people share, they want to know the secret to Israel’s success –and everyone’s got a theory.

Israel has opened your economy and liberalised your currency –  not enough by itself, but an essential precondition.

There’s military service – and there’s the way you take the smartest young people and encourage them to think outside the box.

Turning knowledge workers into knowledge entrepreneurs.

Or, as you put it – not just making things but creating things.

But I also think that if you want to understand Israel and its success, you have to at the power of Jewish culture: that spirit of relentless inquiry, of tireless, forensic curiosity, a determination not just to know ‘what’ but to understand ‘why’.

Applying this to the scientific as well as the philosophical – in his way, Einstein was a lot like a Rabbi of previous centuries.

We are very fortunate in this country – and grateful – that generations of Australia’s remarkable Jewish community have gifted our nation this quality.

It is a remarkable, if tragic circumstance, that out of the most terrible of times, the Holocaust that was Europe in 1930s and 40s, Australia was the beneficiary of that large diaspora that Australia has come to know so well.

That European turn of mind, that love of arts which marks some of the vanished Jewish populations of eastern Europe and has been transferred to this country in something nothing short of a miracle.

A virtuous circle of entrepreneurialism and philosophy – enriching our business, our medicine, our universities, our philanthropy and community.

Mr Prime Minister, you lead a nation which rose from the ashes of humanity’s darkest days.

A democracy which has made a desert bloom.

A self-starting economy, fired by the power of discovery.

And if some countries in the Middle East don’t want to have direct flights to Israel, then let’s have a Dreamliner and fly it direct from Australia to Tel Aviv.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech:

“We have an extraordinary friendship. It’s based on values. When I color the map, I color Australia in the same color as the United States. It’s a partnership based on common values. It is true that the map of Israel’s relations in the world is expanding rapidly, rapidly. We have – I’m going next month to China. We’re celebrating 25 years of resumed relations. China is negotiating with us – at their suggestion after many years that we asked them to do so – a free trade agreement. Mr. Modi is coming to Israel from India later this year. Prime Minister Abe visited Israel and I visited Japan. And we just signed a protection of investment agreement, something that was necessary for Japanese investors. We have almost weekly meetings from Vietnam, from Korea – delegations that come in from all of Asia. I was in Africa and visited with seven African leaders in East Africa, and I’m going to West Africa to meet 20 leaders. That’s the big change. The same is happening in Latin America.

Benjamin Netanyah Photo: Ben Apfelbaum

All of this is happening because of a confluence of interests that I’ll talk about in a minute, but our relationship, our alliance, our friendship is first based on common values before interests, and we value of our friends. We value Australia. We love Australia.

And many, many important things were said here today, but I want to focus on one thing. I want to focus today, because we have here people from the business community, I want to talk about interest. The reason all these countries are coming to Israel in ways that have not yet penetrated the public mind, but it’s beginning to happen – the reason this has happened is because they identify two main things that Israel can deliver. I call them T&T. The first “T” is to deliver an antidote to terror, and Israel has superb intelligence services. So does Australia. By the way, we would do a lot better together than separately. This is one of the things that Prime Minister Turnbull and I discussed today. But Israel’s capacity, capacity to deliver online, real-time intelligence to stop these barbarians who are prowling our countries, are prowling our sea lanes, are prowling our cities – to stop them, to prevent them from their heinous deeds is something that countries value. Every country needs it today, so Israel is sought after because of security and intelligence capabilities.

But there’s a second “T”, and that “T” is technology. Our world is changing very rapidly. The countries that will succeed are those who can innovate. The only way that we can sustain our growing GDP per capita, to sustain the income of our citizens, is to add value. And the ability to add value depends on technological know-how. This is crucial to understand because technology is seeping everywhere. Everything is becoming technologized. The difference between hi-tech and low-tech doesn’t exist anymore. It doesn’t exist in anything. It’ll permeate everything, including barbershops – probably has already. Everything. Case in point: Water was mentioned here, drip irrigation. But there are other areas as well. We recycle our water. Israel recycles 90%, 87% of its wastewater. The next runner-up is Spain. It recycles 17%. So if you’re a country that has a water problem and you want drip irrigation or recycling or prevention of leakage, you need technology. We have that technology.

There is a revolution taking place in the world today, and it’s the intersection of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence. Those who can be at that nexus and create new ideas in that triangle have the future in their hands. We see that in our cyber industry. We have about 500 startup companies in cyber in Beer Sheba, which the Australian Light Horse liberated 100 years ago, has become the cyber capital of Israel. Because we have those capacities that we nurture in the military, but we encourage them to flower and to start-up companies, and that is happening as we speak.

We have a car industry today. It doesn’t produce engines. It doesn’t produce car bodies. It produces the brains for the driverless cars and the car networks of the future. We have more startup companies in automative industry than we have in cyber, which is saying a lot.

We’re digitising Israel’s health system. We can obviate the need for many doctors. If there are any doctors here, some of you are in trouble, because we’re going to make irrelevant a lot of the normal, the routine medical services, and we’re also going to be able to not only have preventive medicine for large populations, but also personalised medicine. That is this confluence of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence. It’s happening in industry after industry. It’s happening in Israel, which is why our economy grew last quarter at six and a half percent. And when you get up there to $40,000 per capita GDP, the ability to sustain that growth depends on what I just said. It depends on innovation. Israel is the innovation nation. And every country has to be the innovation nation, but not every country will be. It depends on what we invest. I propose that we invest in a partnership. I propose that we have a direct line, and I must say a direct airline. You have the Dreamliner; bring it to Israel. And I suggest that, Prime Minister Turnbull, we dedicate the line on your visit for the 100 year anniversary in Be’er Sheva.

This year in Jerusalem; this year in Beer Sheba; and you are all invited.”


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