Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Israeli counterpart hailed bilateral cooperation and shared goals after a meeting that culminated in the signing of several agreements and MOUs.
Turnbull noted that Australia is the largest international contributor after the United States to the Western coalition fighting the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria, and said Australians “recognize the importance of defeating Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and indeed around the world, for the safety of all of us.”
Turnbull further said that Israel and Australia “have the same values – democracy, freedom and the rule of law” and are fighting “the same enemies – terrorism, terrorists that seek to subvert those values.”
The statement issued Thursday by Netanyahu and Malcolm Turnbull also said that “Australia re-affirmed its commitment to Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people, in peace within secure borders, and its steadfast opposition to attempts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. Israel thanked Australia for its consistent support in this regard. Both countries re-stated their support for a directly negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Australia affirmed its support for a two-state solution.”
Mr. Turnbull said Australia’s position on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is exactly the same as it has been for many years.”
He continued, “We support an outcome which has two states where Israelis, the Israeli people, the Palestinian people live side by side as a result of direct negotiations between them.”
But, Mr. Turnbull said: “You cannot expect any Israeli government to put itself in a position where its security is at risk, where its citizens are not safe.”
Israeli Prime Minister hopes to triple trade with Australia
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he hoped to triple bilateral trade with Australia as the countries forge closer ties.
Bilateral trade is currently worth about $1 billion a year, with Israel sending less than 1 percent of its exports Down Under and Australian products accounting for just 0.3 percent of Israel’s imports.
“Our trade is $1 billion. It should be at least double or triple that,” Netanyahu said
Anti-Israel protesters in Australia, calling Netanyahu a war criminal
Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated in Sydney on Thursday against the first visit to Australia by an Israeli prime minister, branding Binyamin Netanyahu a “war criminal”.
A police helicopter hovered over the city as speakers slammed Australian support for Israel.
“We are here to oppose Australia’s support for Israel, for a racist apartheid nation,” pro-Palestinian author and Australian lawyer Randa Abdel-Fattah told AFP.