Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minster Avigdor Liberman on Sunday.
Netanyahu began the meeting by telling Bishop that “your friendship is terrific – Australia, the government’s and yours personally. And we appreciate our friends.”
In return Bishop invited Netanyahu to visit Australia. “I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the State of Israel and our friendship, and invite you to come to Australia,” she said. “We’re thinking there’s a little window of opportunity early next year maybe?”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu accepted the invitation.
On Sunday afternoon Rivlin met with Bishop at his residence, welcoming her to Israel and Jerusalem.
“I want to say to you that the connection between us — Australians and Israelis — is very important for us in Israel. We appreciate the friendship between our peoples, between our two states, and your friendship with the people of Israel,” he said.
Rivlin also stressed the importance of the cooperation between Israel and Australia in the fields of innovation and cybersecurity, among others. “We are cooperating greatly on issues that are of concern to the whole free world,” he said.
Rivlin made specific mention of the fallen Australian servicemen in the Holy Land on the centenary of World War I. “We as Israelis remember the Australian servicemen, who helped the Jewish people return to their homeland, along with the necessity to cooperate with all of the people living here,” he said.
Rivlin added that he hoped to be able to reschedule a previously postponed visit to Australia for the near future.
Bishop told the president that her visit to Israel was “an opportunity for me to ensure that this relationship is not taken for granted, that this relationship will continue to be nurtured by both sides, and that it will continue to flourish based on common values.”
Bishop also told the president that Australia was committed to standing up for Israel in international arenas that were “obviously biased, discriminatory and unfair resolutions put forward,” according to a readout from the President’s Residence.
During her visit, Bishop also met with Defense Minister Liberman, with whom she met several times in the past when he served as foreign minister. The two discussed issues of international and regional security, including the war on Islamic State, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Liberman thanked Bishop for the role Australian soldiers play in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, which supervises the ceasefire between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, and their participation in the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which monitors the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in Sinai.
Liberman and Bishop agreed that the two countries would work together to plan a commemorative event to mark the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba, when Australian forces captured the city from the Ottoman Turks in 1917.
While in Jerusalem Bishop also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum, where she laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.