Thank you Prime Minister, Bibi, Sara - Lucy and I are so pleased to be here, so honoured to be here.
And you’re right, you’re right it is a long schlep. But let me say the welcome here in feeling at home, it feels like family. I do feel that we are part of the same mishpocha, as you said.
Indeed, the warmth of your visit in February was remarkable. It was, there was an enthusiasm, an energy that you brought with you and that excited everybody that you met.
You gave some very inspiring speeches. One at Moriah College and I remember very well, we were sitting there, just like this and I’d spoken about General John Monash and you were called to stand up and speak and you said to me as you got up, you said: “Monash, I’ll work with that”, and you gave such an inspiring speech to those kids and you talked to them about the courage of the Australians that had fought to defend the same values on which the state of Israel has been founded.
The same values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, the right to be able to live as you please and not be dictated to by others, the cause of freedom. And that is what Monash and the Australian Army fought for in the First World War.
That’s what Australian troops fought for in the Second World War when they fought to defend Palestine from the Nazi invaders in North Africa.
As you’ve said - we discussed in Sydney when you were down in Australia in February – if the Germans had got to Palestine in the Second World War there would’ve been no Zionist Project.
We were there with you in that war, in the First World War and of course today, there are Australians serving in the UN operations on Israel’s borders and of course, more broadly in the Middle East.
As you know and as we’ve discussed many times we are all fighting together against militant Islamist terrorism.
It is a threat to Israel, it is a threat to Australia, it is a threat to all who value and cherish freedom.
But, of course, this visit which you’ve welcomed us so warmly is to commemorate the Battle of Beersheba.
A moment in history of extraordinary significance. One of those turning points. One of those pivotal moments in history when Australians and New Zealanders, their Light Horse brigades swept through the Middle East and liberated Palestine, and indeed Syria, all the way up to Damascus, Jerusalem and Damascus, from the Ottoman Empire, from the Turkish occupiers who as you said, Bibi, had been occupying this part of the world for 400 years.
And, of course, that was the year of the Balfour Declaration and so you can see how the courage of those Australian Horsemen who’d come many of them with their own horses from the hills of their own farms, young men, with their own horses had come to fight in a foreign land but yet one which was in many ways so familiar because they shared the Bible, every place was a household name.
It was a strange environment for them to be fighting in but also from a cultural point of view so familiar.
It was a great victory, a great charge. The last successful cavalry charge in military history and certainly one that rings through the ages. Profoundly Australian in every respect, deeply etched in our national psyche.
So, Lucy and I are so honoured to be here with you today. We have many things to discuss upstairs. More contemporary battles as well.
But above all, but above all the strength of this relationship between Australia and Israel getting stronger every year.
And in this year, 2017, you made the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to Australia and I am visiting you here now for the first time as a Prime Minister and the first visit of an Australian Prime Minister to Israel since John Howard visited in 2000.
Stronger and stronger grow our ties. Deeper and more profound than ever, our commitment to the values on which our nations, our societies are based – freedom, democracy, the rule of law. These are values we have always fought for and always will.
Thank you so much for your very warm welcome.