Israeli prime minister makes historic visit to Australia



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a business conference Wednesday. Credit: Haim Zach/GPO.

( Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his historic visit to Australia, the first by a holder of his office, Wednesday by praising his counterpart Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to standing up for Israel on the world stage.

“Australia has been courageously willing to puncture U.N. hypocrisy more than once, including this absurd resolution that said the Western Wall, the most sacred site for the Jewish people for thousands of years—thousands of years even before the rise of Islam—that this is occupied Palestinian territory,” Netanyahu said.

“So the U.N. is capable of many absurdities and I think it’s important that you have straightforward and clear-eyed countries like Australia that often bring it back to Earth,” he added.

Ahead of the visit by Netanyahu, Turnbull penned an opinion piece in The Australian newspaper pledging support for Israel in the United Nations and denouncing the movement to boycott the Jewish state.

“My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the U.N. Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state,” Turnbull wrote, referring to Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements last December.

During the press conference with Netanyahu, Turnbull called Israel a “miraculous nation” and praised its strides in areas such as the high-tech industry.

"We've also talked about the remarkable achievement of Israel as truly a miraculous nation; a nation founded on the most ancient history, yet at the cutting edge of technology and innovation, inspiring others,” Turnbull said.

At the same time, Turnbull reiterated his country’s support for a two-state solution.

“I agree with you in that the circumstances of the times in your area…do appear to create the opportunity where perhaps the moons are aligning such that this could be a good time to come back to the table and reach an agreement,” Turnbull said, adding “but, of course, as with any agreement, it needs two to tango.”

Netanyahu and Turnbull also attended an event in Sydney with more than 500 Australian and Israeli business leaders that focused on expanding bilateral relations in areas such as alternative energy, water technology, cyber security and agriculture.

"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,” Netanyahu told the business leaders.

Netanyahu is scheduled to remain in Australia until Sunday, and will meet with members of the country’s Jewish community and other government officials.

Posted on February 22, 2017 .