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  • Australian Prime Minister Turnbull Addresses ASPI-BESA Center Bilateral Dialogue Participants

    Date: 2017-11-02 Hour: 12:58

    The relationship between Australia and Israel is closer than it has ever been, declared Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in addressing the Be'er Sheva Dialogue between the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University last evening.

    The ASPI-BESA bilateral dialogue brings together experienced voices from Australia and Israel to share perspectives and analyses on the challenges facing the world today.  The dialogue provides an opportunity to focus on critical defense and security issues while reflecting more broadly on the status and outlook for the relationship between the two countries.  

    "Our Memorandum of Understanding on defense industry cooperation is critically important, the growing collaboration on cyber is important, and we're establishing an annual bilateral strategic dialogue."  Noting that the two countries face the same threats from Islamist terrorism, the Prime Minister said it is crucial that they work even closer in the cyber context.  "Cyber affects everything in a completely connected world where distance has been abolished by technology.  The ability of someone to be sitting anywhere in the world and to be able to direct operation literally as though they are in the room next door brings the threat of terrorism in this great big world of ours so much closer.  Nowhere is far away from anywhere else.  The Middle East is not a long way from Australia.  Bibi (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) says it's a big schlep.  Sure it is – on an airplane.  But in terms of communication, it's just a matter of seconds."

    Referring to this week's terrorist attack in New York, Turnbull said that protecting crowded places is vitally important. "We have very strong assistance and collaboration with Israel and a number other international partners.  We have to use all of our relationships in order to fulfill our most important commitment to keep our people safe. That is the first duty of government and the collaboration with Israel is a very big part of that." 

    Turnbull said that dialogues such as the one between ASPI and the BESA Center are critical.   "The more closely we can work together on counter-terrorism and on cyber in particular, the more effective we will be in keeping our two nations safe." 

    One dimension that could be strengthened between the two countries, according to the Prime Minister, is the business, technology and investment dimension.  He noted that 16 Israeli companies worth $1.8 billion are listed on the ASX, which has done a good job in making itself accessible, and which is becoming more international.  "The more investment collaboration on the technology and industry front between Australia and Israel, the better, and I think that's the dimension that's been underdone in the past but is being developed much more rapidly now."   

    (Left to right): AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein; ASPI Senior Analyst Dr. Anthony Bergin; AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler; BESA Center Director Prof. Efraim Karsh; Prime Minister Malcolm and Mrs. Lucy Turnbull; Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Arie Zaban