The Netanyahus welcome the Turnbulls

October 31, 2017 Agencies
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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara have welcomed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy who travelled to Israel in the framework of the event to mark the 100th anniversary of the WWO battle for Be’er Sheva.

Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Benjamin Netanyahu at the welcoming ceremony
Photo: Kobi Gideon (GPO)

Prime ministers Netanyahu and Turnbull then held a working meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem,

In his welcoming address. Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “Malcolm, you are a true friend of Israel, Australia is a true friend of Israel. Sara and I appreciate your warm friendship and the fact that you spent so much time with us during our visit, and we welcome the opportunity to reciprocate here, in the land of Israel.

I think our two nations understand one another, in the deepest sense. We cherish the values of peace, freedom, democracy. We battle the same forces of militant Islam that threaten not only our two countries, but also our common civilisation.

Your personal commitment to Israel is absolutely clear. It is appreciated, warmly appreciated by every citizen of Israel.

Tomorrow we mark the centennial of an enormously important event in the history of Zionism, the history of the Jewish people.

One of these great events would not have been possible without the heroism and sacrifice of Australian troupes who liberated this land from Ottoman rule, from 400 years of Ottoman rule, with tremendous courage and it is forever etched in our memories.

And the fact that you came all the way from Australia to mark it, I think says a lot about our friendship, a lot about the deep roots between Australia and Israel, and also a lot about you and Lucy.

We have to remember that this event tomorrow was the gateway to the rebirth of the Jewish people, and I look forward to marking this historic occasion with you tomorrow.

I want to thank you for your unwavering support for Israel.

We are going talk upstairs about how to further that alliance even, to make it even deeper, even stronger, even broader, To use your word which I heard in Sydney, to use your word, I thank you for being part of our mishpucha, our family.

Welcome both to Jerusalem.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull responded :

“Lucy and I are so pleased to be here, so honored to be here. And you are right, you’re right, it is, it is a long schlep, but let me say the welcome here in feeling here at home, it feels like family, I do feel that we are part of the same mishpucha.

Indeed, the warmth of your visit in February was remarkable. It was, there was an enthusiasm and energy that you brought with you and that excited everybody that you met.

You gave some very inspiring speeches, one about the, at Moriah College. I remember very well, we were sitting there, just like this, and I’d spoken about General John Monash. And you were called to stand up and speak, and you said to me as you got up, you said: “Monash, I’ll work with that.” And you gave such an inspiring speech to those kids, and you talked to them about the courage of the Australians that had fought to defend the same values on which the State of Israel has been founded. The same values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, the right to be able to live as you please, and not be dictated to by others. The cause of freedom.

And that is what Monash and the Australian army fought for in the First World War. That’s what Australian troops fought for in the Second World War when they fought to defend Palestine from the Nazi invaders in North Africa. As you’ve said and we discussed in Sydney, when you were down, down in Australia in February, if the Germans had got to Palestine in the Second World War, there would have been no Zionist project.

That, we, we were there with you in that war, in the First World War and of course, today.

There are Australians serving in the UN operations on Israel’s borders and of course, more broadly in the Middle East. As you know, and as we have discussed many times, we are all fighting together against militant Islamist terrorism. It is a threat to Israel, it is a threat to Australia, it is a threat to all who value and cherish freedom.

But of course, this visit which, where you’ve welcomed us so warmly is to commemorate the Battle of Be’er Sheva. A moment in history of an extraordinary significance, one of those turning points, one of those pivotal moments in history when Australians and New-Zealanders, their Light Horse Brigades swept through the Middle East and liberated Palestine and indeed Syria, all the way up to Damascus, Jerusalem and Damascus, from the Ottoman Empire, from the Turkish occupiers. And of course, that was the year of the Balfour Declaration.

It was a great victory, a great charge, the last successful cavalry charge in military history, and certainly one that rings through the ages, profoundly Australian in every respect, deeply etched in our national psyche.

Lucy and I so honored to be here with you today, we have many things to discuss upstairs, more contemporary battles as well, but above all, but above all the strength of this relationship between Australia and Israel getting stronger every year.

And in this year, 2017, you made the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to Australia, and I’m visiting you here now for the first time as a Prime Minister and the first visit of an Australian Prime Minister to Israel since John Howard visited in 2000.

Stronger and stronger grow our ties, deeper and more profound than ever our commitment to the values on which our nations, our societies are based. Freedom, democracy, the rule of law, these are values we have always fought for and always will.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull listes to Benjamin Netanyahu

Following the meeting an MOU on bilateral security cooperation was signed. Defence Ministry Director General Udi Adam signed for Israel and Australian Ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan signed for Australia. The MOU encourages cooperation between the new countries’ security industries including in innovation. It also includes articles on strengthening inter-governmental ties and the exchange of information regarding opportunities and approaches in the security industries.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I want to say how pleased we are on your historic visit, on the historic occasion of this tremendous centennial that will celebrate tomorrow in Be’er Sheva.

It highlights, as does our meeting that we’ve just ended, the extraordinary friendship between Israel and Australia.

We just signed a defence industry agreement. It reflects our commitment to defend our common values of freedom, of democracy, of the rule of law, pluralism. These are values that are under attack by various forces. We cooperate in every way to safeguard our peoples and safeguard our civilization.

We are pursuing and have discussed the possibilities of cooperating in areas of technology that are changing our world, creating vast new opportunities. Australia is one of the most developed countries in the world; Israel is one of the most developed countries in the world, and together we can do a lot more.

I have to say that we have admired the fact that Australia had taken part virtually, I think, in all the battles for freedom in the last 100 years.

I told you that the first meeting between our peoples actually took place before Be’er Sheva, in Gallipoli when the first Jewish fighting forces fought alongside their Australian counterparts in Gallipoli. That didn’t go so well, Be’er Sheva went better.

And the impression that Australian soldiers left on the Jewish community here in the land of Israel at the time was lasting – tremendous sympathy, the informality, the warmth, the shared values that you so well described a few hours earlier when you spoke about this.

This is all true, this is something that creates a sympathy, an identification in a friendship that is real.

I know that people think that all international relations are guided by interests. Of course they are. but when interests cohere with values there is something special. Interest coheres with values in the relations between Israel and Australia.

The fact that you came here, half way around the world, you can’t really get further away than the distance between Israel and Australia. The fact that you came here, I think, signifies that friendship.

I’m very proud to have been the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Australia. I’m delighted you are here, a second time, a second time a Prime Minister visits Israel.

I think the future portends great things for both our countries which are really one in values, so welcome friend.”


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