AUSTRALIA has this afternoon (Friday) welcomed Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin to our shores.
Rivlin touched down in Sydney as a guest of Governor-General David Hurley and is due to spend a week visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
This presidential visit was long anticipated; Rivlin almost made it here in 2016, but changed his plans to make an urgent visit to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Syrian crisis.
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) February 21, 2020
Rivlin is the third Israeli head of state to visit Australia, after Chaim Herzog in 1986 and Moshe Katsav in 2005.
Rivlin’s visit, like that of his predecessors, underscores the historic relationship between Israel and Australia, which cast the first affirmative vote in the UN for partition in 1947 and was one of the first nations to seal diplomatic relations with the fledgling Jewish State.
Since then bilateral relations across a number of channels – from diplomatic to cultural and trade – have been warm and productive.
As Rivlin starts his visit, it is encouraging that Australia has actively intervened in a legal case brought against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes against the Palestinians.
President Rivlin arrived this afternoon in Sydney at the start of his State Visit to Australia. Hectic week ahead!! pic.twitter.com/c94vEeLXsD
— Mark Sofer (@MarkSofer) February 21, 2020
While the ICC chief prosecutor says there is enough evidence for an investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes, a number of countries, including Australia, will argue the court does not have jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories.
Canberra’s move – intervening in a fundamentally flawed case against Israel, brought to court at the behest of the Palestinian Authority and its supporters – is an act of fairness and the act of a great friend. Australia and other countries are correct in calling out this political red herring.
It is a tribute to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne that Australia’s support has been so principled on this issue – not only in its formal application to the ICC, but in a letter sent by the PM to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in December, stating Australia does not recognise that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a state.
Exclusive: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has spoken about the 'true friendship' between Israel and Australia ahead of his first official visit Down Under. He also maintains Israel is doing "everything possible" to expedite Malka Leifer's extradition. https://t.co/Puoa0iBeeV pic.twitter.com/DvSDHwyTQb
— Jewish News (@aus_jewishnews) February 19, 2020
It comes after Morrison’s staunch support for Israel at the UN.
Stating, “Australia and Israel have a long and respectful friendship,” Morrison said in a statement this week, “The President’s visit will be an opportunity to build on this relationship, discuss further cooperation and help us forge new and lasting connections.
“I look forward to welcoming President Rivlin to Australia.”
It is our hope that with Rivlin’s visit, the warm ties between our nations will only continue to grow even stronger.
— Israeli-Embassy inOZ (@IsraelinOZ) February 20, 2020