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PM Netanyahu and his Wife Welcome Australian PM Turnbull and his Wife in an Official Ceremony at the PMO in Jerusalem Photo by Kobi Gideon (GPO)
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PM Netanyahu and his Wife Welcome Australian PM Turnbull and his Wife in an Official Ceremony at the PMO in Jerusalem

30 October 2017

PM Netanyahu and his Wife Welcome Australian PM Turnbull and his Wife in an Official Ceremony at the PMO in Jerusalem

(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, this evening (Monday, 30 October 2017), at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, welcomed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy, who have come to Israel in the framework of the event to mark the 100th anniversary of the WWO battle for Be'er Sheva.

 

Prime ministers Netanyahu and Turnbull then held a working meeting.

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

 

"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 civilization.

 

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 mishpuche, our family.

 

Welcome both to Jerusalem."

 

Australian Prime Minister Turnbull:

 

"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 mishpacha.

 

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."