Netanyahu, Rivlin meet with Australian Foreign Minister in Jerusalem Sunday

PM accepts invitation to be first Israeli PM to visit Australia; Leaders confirm strong ties between states

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin met with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Jerusalem on Sunday, Netanyahu accepting an invitation to be the first ever prime minister of Israel to visit Australia.

Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Bishop, stating “I just want to greet you and say that your friendship is terrific- Australia, the government’s and yours personally. And we appreciate our friends,” Bishop responding by stating “I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the State of Israel and our friendship, and invite you to come to Australia. And we’re thinking there’s a little window of opportunity early next year maybe? And the Australian public would warmly embrace you, welcome you and we would look forward to the first visit of an Israeli prime minister ever to Australia.”

President Rivlin welcomed Bishop to Israel, both leaders giving a short press conference ahead of their meeting, Rivlin stating “I want to say to you as one of the leaders of your people that the connection between us – Australians and Israelis – is very important for us in Israel. We appreciate the friendship between our peoples, between our two states, and your friendship with the people of Israel.”

He spoke of Israeli-Australian relations, stating “We are cooperating greatly on issues that are of concern to the whole free world. We as Israelis remember the Australian servicemen, who helped the Jewish people return to their homeland, along with the necessity to cooperate with all of the people living here.”

On the peace process with the Palestinians, Rivlin stated that “We [Israel] are trying to do all we can to renew the negotiations between us and the Palestinians. Unfortunately the Palestinians are looking for other arenas to debate with us in the international arena.” His remarks come amidst reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to a possible meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Moscow, Abbas reportedly giving preconditions for the meeting despite Israel’s insistency that a meeting occur without preconditions.

On her visit, Bishop stated “This is an opportunity for me to ensure that this relationship is not taken for granted, that this relationship will continue to be nurtured by both sides, and that it will continue to flourish based on common values. It is a friendship which must endure as like-minded countries facing so many challenges in a deeply troubled world,” addressing the large Jewish community in Australia, stating “There are around 120,000 in the Australian Jewish community, and they add so much to the richness of the fabric of Australian society.”

She stated on Australia’s relations with Israel, “Our relationship has the potential to enter into new fields of endeavor, particularly in innovation where Israel is a world leader, and we are delighted that there will be a ‘landing pad’ in Tel Aviv, which shows we have much to learn from one another,” referring to the development of a tech hub in Tel Aviv for international cooperation and innovative projects.