Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered a staunch defense of Israel on Wednesday, criticizing the United Nations and vowing never to support “one-sided resolutions” calling for an end to Israeli settlement building.
Mr. Turnbull welcomed Binyamin Netanyahu as the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and reiterated Australia’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
However, he also made it clear Australia would not support any resolutions such as the one approved by the United Nations Security Council in December calling for an end to Israeli settlement building on land occupied by Palestinians.
“My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel, of the kind recently adopted by the U.N. Security Council, and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state,” Mr. Turnbull wrote in an editorial in The Australian newspaper.
The U.N. resolution was approved in the final weeks of Barack Obama’s administration, which broke a long tradition of shielding Israel diplomatically by choosing not to wield its veto power.
“Australia has been courageously willing to puncture U.N. hypocrisy more than once,” Mr. Netanyahu said.
“The U.N. is capable of many absurdities, and I think it’s important that you have straightforward and clear-eyed countries like Australia that often bring it back to earth,” he said after meeting Mr. Turnbull.
Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations has said the United States still supports a two-state solution to the conflict, although U.S. President Donald Trump has also said he is open to new ways to achieve peace.
“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,” Mr. Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.
Netanyahu said any solution would need a Palestinian state to recognize Israel, which would also have security control of the territories.
While in Australia, Mr. Netanyahu was scheduled to sign agreements fostering closer economic and defense cooperation.
Later in the day, Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Turnbull held a joint visit to Sydney’s magnificent Central Synagogue.
A capacity crowd of over 2,000 attendees warmly greeted many national and international dignitaries.
Mr. Turnbull spoke passionately about Australia’s absolute solidarity with Israel: “We stand with Israel, our committed and consistent friend.” He also emphasized the safety and security of the State of Israel and its people. Mr. Turnbull marveled at the extraordinary innovation and technological developments in Israel, describing it as a leader that Australia looks up to that is simultaneously miraculous and brilliant.
Mr. Netanyahu commenced his address by stating, “I want to bring greetings to you from Jerusalem, our eternal capital, never to be divided again!” He depicted Australia and Israel as “two vibrant democracies,” and emphasized that for his country, “There is no better friend for the State of Israel.” He thanked Australia for her consistent support and further cemented the strong unshakable bond between the two nations.
Spiritual leader of the Central Synagogue, Rabbi Levi Wolff, offered a heartfelt blessing to both Prime Ministers, “May G-d grant you both the strength to courageously lead your respective countries.”
There were standing ovations for both gifted orators and a palpable energy was evident. All smiled when Mr. Turnbull referred to the Central Synagogue as, ‘my local shul and the heart of my mishpachah of Wentworth [his local electorate].” Australia’s Prime Minister went on to affably conclude, “I feel very much at home. This is very heimish!”