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Australian political leaders visit Israel

The highest caliber delegation of Australian political alumni ever to visit Israel was honored on Tuesday evening at a cocktail reception hosted by the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce.

The delegation, in Israel with the ZFA and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a five-day program of meetings and activities, comprises:

  • The Hon John Howard OM AC, former Prime Minister of Australia
  • The Hon Wayne Swan, former Treasurer of Australia
  • The Hon Alexander Downer AC, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
  • The Hon Stephen Conroy, former Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy, and
  • The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson AO, former Minister for Defence and former Ambassador to Belgium.

Welcoming guests to the function, President of the ZFA Jeremy Leibler described the delegation as a select group of Australians who have, during their illustrious careers, helped to build and reinforce the relationship between two countries, united by their common morality and ideals.

“In the various political portfolios they have held, across successive Australian governments of different political persuasions, each member of our delegation has made, and faithfully fulfilled, a commitment to the Australian Jewish community and to Israel.”

The historic first delegation, co-hosted by the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Embassy of Israel in Australia, met with political leaders including President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz and with senior representatives of the Palestinian Authority.

They visited Yad Vashem, the Supreme Court of Justice and Hadassah Hospital, and toured a number of Israel’s most successful entrepreneurial, high-tech and innovative enterprises.

On Thursday, the group will take part in commemorations of the anniversary of the Battle of the Light Horse Brigade in Beer Sheva, with Mr. Howard and Mr. Swan both giving speeches at this year’s annual ceremony.

Summing up the purpose of the visit, ZFA CEO Ginette Searle described it as “an invaluable opportunity to bring people together who have made significant contributions to the relationship between Australia and Israel.”

“The delegates have valued the opportunity to hear from high level experts in various fields including politics and security, exploring the latest innovations in technology and social enterprise and engaging on multiple issues where our respective nations have important long term or evolving connections.”