Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his ministers. Topics of discussion included Israel and Australia's trade ties, as well as the war on terror.
Israel and Australia's shared interests "focus on countering threats as well as realizing opportunities," Netanyahu said. "We are working together with you, as with other countries that share similar values, in order to prevent the terrorist attacks that threaten our countries. We are working to ensure that this half of the century is led by the forces of progress and freedom -- not the forces of barbarism."
Turnbull noted that Australia was committed to the war on terror, and was the second-largest contributor to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Australia, he said, understands the importance of defeating Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and around the world.
The two nations' trade relationship, Netanyahu said, "stands on $1 billion. It should double or triple. I encourage Israeli and Australian companies to boost trade. If I made the effort to come here, so should they."
Netanyahu and Turnbull signed a series of bilateral treaties and memorandums of understanding meant to foster joint research and development ventures.
Australian Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester and Israel's Ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel also signed an air transport agreement.
YESTERDAY, on Wednesday 22 February, Netanyahu and his wife Sara, together with Turnbull and his wife Lucy, visited the Sydney Central Synagogue for an event hosting local Jewish leaders and hundreds of members of the Jewish community.
Netanyahu thanked Turnbull "for the extraordinary welcome that he and his wife Lucy have shown Sara and me and our entire delegation. There is no better friend for the State of Israel.
"It's an honor to be the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia. I have to say that I hope the next trip doesn't take another 68 years," he said.
"I want to salute this Jewish community, which is unusually committed to the State of Israel, to the Jewish people.
"Israel and Australia are two vibrant democracies. This is not something that is self-evident. Democracy has to be nourished; it has to be protected; it has to be maintained. ... Israel is a beacon of freedom, of tolerance, of progress in a very dark expanse that I hope and I believe will change as many Arab countries understand that Israel is not their enemy, but their vital and indispensable ally in warding off the barbarism that threatens all of us.
"There is, I think, an opening, as Malcolm and I discussed, for the first time in my lifetime, because the Arabs understand that Israel could be a key to their future.
"I'm not looking at reality through rose-colored glasses. I'm, I think, a realist; but as a realist, I see not only challenge, but opportunity that grows from this challenge. And I think that if anyone understands the hopes of the people of Israel for peace and security it is you. You have shared this hope and this dream with us day in, day out. And you have this strong bond with Israel," he told event goers.
Netanyahu lauded Turnbull "for time and again standing up against the demonization" of Israel in the UN.
"You refuse to accept this hypocrisy. And standing up for Israel means standing up for simple truths. It doesn't mean that we don't have our imperfections. Which country is perfect? Well, Australia is pretty close, but none of us are perfect. But we seek all the time to improve. We seek all the time to do better. We seek to do better for all our peoples and we also want Israel to be the home of all Jews. I want every Jew in the world, every Jewish man and woman, to feel comfortable in the State of Israel.
"I also think that we have a battle against those who seek to demonize our people and the resurgent anti-Semitism that we see in many parts of the world. It is something that we need to fight together. I think this is important in Europe. It's important in America. It's very important that President Trump took a strong stand against anti-Semitism. And it's important that we all continue to do so in the years ahead.
"So we have performed miracles, but we have performed miracles because we're committed to our destiny. I want all of you to come to Israel. I want you to visit your friends and your families. I want you to walk the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem, hike in the Golan Heights. By the way, the Golan will never go back to Syria. It will always be a part of the State of Israel.
"Spend time with our brave young soldiers. Get to know the land. See this miracle. See the land of Israel. See the people of Israel. The State of Israel lives. The people of Israel thrive. Am Yisrael Chai," he concluded.
'Israel is the innovation nation'
Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu and Turnbull attended an economic event hosting some 500 Australian and Israeli businesspeople.
The Israeli delegation to the meeting included companies in the fields of alternative energy, water technology, cybersecurity, big data 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. It is true that the map of Israel's relations in the world is expanding rapidly, rapidly," Netanyahu told the audience.
Netanyahu touched on Israel's growing international trade ties, such as with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Africa and Latin America, saying, "All of this is happening because of a confluence of interests, but our relationship, our alliance, our friendship is first based on common values before interests, and we value of our friends. We value Australia. We love Australia."
Netanyahu focused on the business and financial interests Israel, Australia and other global layers share.
"I want to talk about interest. The reason all these countries are coming to Israel -- the reason this has happened is because they identify two main things that Israel can deliver. I call them T&T. The first 'T' is to deliver an antidote to terror, and Israel has superb intelligence services. So does Australia. By the way, we would do a lot better together than separately.
"Israel's capacity, capacity to deliver online, real-time intelligence to stop these barbarians who are prowling our countries, are prowling our sea lanes, are prowling our cities -- to stop them, to prevent them from their heinous deeds is something that countries value. Every country needs it today, so Israel is sought after because of security and intelligence capabilities.
"But there's a second 'T,' and that 'T' is technology," he consented. "Our world is changing very rapidly. The countries that will succeed are those who can innovate. ... And the ability to add value depends on technological know-how.
"Israel is the innovation nation. And every country has to be the innovation nation, but not every country will be. It depends on what we invest. I propose that we invest in a partnership," he said.
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by Israel Hayom at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=40579