Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group

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Thank you David and congratulations on your fine chairmanship ofthe Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group. I acknowledge my parliamentarycolleagues here this evening and distinguished guests all. Friends ofAustralia, Friends of Israel.

We are celebrating this evening the State of Israel for this yearmarks the 70th anniversary of that very significant United Nationspartition resolution that created the State of Israel 70 years ago. Australiawas the first nation to vote in favour of that partition resolution. In fact,Australia and Israel have remained firm and staunch friends since that time andit's a bipartisan position – I acknowledge Mark Dreyfrus here this evening. It'sa bipartisan position of successive Australian governments that thisrelationship is firm and enduring and I believe that that was highlighted thisyear by the reciprocal Prime Ministerial visits when in February Prime MinisterNetanyahu visited Australia and I was personally delighted because I did extendthe invitation to him in front of the Israeli media and he had littlealternative but to say 'Foreign Minister, of course I'll be there!' It was avery successful visit in February and then Prime Minister Turnbull reciprocatedwith a visit to Israel just last month.

I have visited Israel twice in my time as Foreign Minister andpreviously, and there are many parliamentary and ministerial visits between ourtwo nations, and that gives an indication of the strength and the depth of therelationship.

Prime Minister Turnbull and Prime Minister Netanyahu announced anumber of new initiatives during the Prime Minister's visit last monthincluding in security, in counter-terrorism and in cyber-security, some of thenew frontiers that we face as nations.

Last week the Prime Minister, the Trade Minister and I releasedthe Australian Government's Foreign Policy White Paper, the first in 14 yearsand the most comprehensive report that demonstrates the intersection of ournational interests with our international engagement. It was an opportunity forus to state our interests, our priorities and our values within the frameworkof a number of guiding principles. The very strong theme running through theWhite Paper is our commitment to the international rules based order, that webof treaties and alliances and institutions backed up by international law,rules, norms and conventions that has enabled relative peace and prosperitysince the end of the Second World War as we sought to create "a world out ofchaos".

That international rules based order reflects our values and thevalues of Israel as we are both open liberal democracies committed to freedomsand rule of law and democratic institutions.

There is more to our relationship for we are trading partners,commercial partners, and we are working together in the field of innovation.I'm delighted that Australia has established a Landing Pad in Tel Aviv whereour market-ready start-ups and scale-ups meet with the Israeli innovationindustry – which is of course amongst one of the best in the world – where theinvestors, entrepreneurs and innovators are able to advise, guide and mentoryoung Australian entrepreneurs and innovators.

The relationship is strong and deep and Australia is one of fewnations in the world prepared to stand up for Israel in the United Nations. Wewill not support one-sided, unfair, unbalanced resolutions that target Israel.An example is the United Nations Human Rights Council's Item 7. Israel is theonly country in the world singled out for a standalone standing agenda item on humanrights and Australia, under the Coalition Government, will not engage indebates on item 7 that target only Israel.

This is an example of the depth of feeling wehave of Israel and we will continue to work together. We pay tribute to Israelas a beacon of democracy in a very troubled neighbourhood and we want tocontinue to work together – as our people continue to engage, as ourGovernment's continue to work together, and as we are committed to globalpeace, stability and security. May I take this opportunity to take a glass andtoast the friendship of Australia and Israel. To the people of Israel, to thepeople of Australia, long may our friendship endure.

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