Australian Jewish leaders expressed frustration Wednesday with the cancellation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to the country.
Netanyahu was planning on becoming the first sitting Israeli prime minister to come to Australia this week.
He was going to meet with Australian Jewish leaders in Melbourne and Sydney and pro-Israel Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the capital, Canberra. But he canceled the trip due to the kidnapping of Israeli teens Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifra and Naftali Fraenkel.
“It is a massive disappointment that the first ever planned visit of Israel’s prime minister has been canceled, but is entirely understandable considering the kidnapping of the three boys,” said Dr. Danny Lamm, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia. “The ZFA, which had been coordinating the trip under the direction of Israel’s Embassy in Canberra, joins with ‘klal Israel’ [all of Israel] in prayer for a speedy return of Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal. The visit following Abbott’s invitation would have brought together two great leaders, men who represent two great democracies – Australia one of the oldest and Israel more recent – and nations that greatly admire each other.”
Lamm said he hoped the visit would be rescheduled, but no date has been set. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert visited Australia when he was not prime minister. President-elect Reuven Rivlin came as Knesset speaker.
“We hope that the visit can take place in the near future,” Lamm said. “It is long overdue.”