Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plants an olive tree in Jerusalem's Grove of Nations.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On the first visit made by an Australian Prime Minister to Israel since 2001, Prime Minster
Malcom Turnbull planted an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations in Jerusalem as a
reaffirmation of his and his country’s support for Israel.
Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, who was accompanied by his wife Lucy, was
greeted by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson and Board of Directors member Barbara
The Grove of Nations
was created by KKL-JNF in 2005 as a place where visiting heads of state
plant an olive tree as a symbol of friendship and peace between their countries and Israel.
Michelson said to the Australian Prime Minister that he was the 115 th leader to plant a tree here.
After unveiling a commemorative plaque engraved with his full name and title, the prime
minster and his wife planted the tree and he recited the planter’s prayer. Following Michelson’s
suggestion, Turnbull selected a nearby pebble to take home with him as a meaningful keepsake
from his trip to Israel.
Also accompanying the prime minister were a group of Australian journalists who had also come
. The ceremony, which took place in Beersheba, was held in the presence of PM
Malcolm Turnbull, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and New Zealand Governor
General Dame Patsy Reddy.
In a press conference held following the planting of the tree, Turnbull told the journalists that he
was strongly moved by his visit to Yad Vashem, which took place just before he planted his tree.
“A visit to Yad Vashem is one of the most confronting experiences any one can have anywhere
in the world,” he said. “In the guest book I wrote: ‘all the oceans in the world can’t contain our
tears but all the oceans in the world can’t contain our determination to stand with Israel.’”
“The Holocaust was an unspeakable crime…and is reminder why Israel must be strong and its
territorial integrity must be defended,” he said. “That is, we are becoming closer in the fight
against terror and collaborating in our efforts because we share the same values and share the
same threat from terrorism.”
Turnbull said that his country supports the establishment of two states for two peoples, and
reiterated the need for negotiations, but that the borders could only by determined by Israelis
Turnbull used the opportunity to also express his shock at the terror attack in New York that
occurred on October 31st, saying that Australia’s love and prayers are with the victims of the
“We are determined more than ever to defend the territorial integrity of Israel…Australia has to
ensure the territorial integrity, peace and safety of the State of Israel. It has prospered out of
unspeakable darkness and that is a great achievement, and a triumph of hope, determination,
optimism and passion over the worst evil imaginable,” he said.
Referring to the historical battle which he had just commemorated in Beersheba he said: “One
hundred years ago young Australians captured the town of Beersheba from the Ottoman Turks
and…paved the way for the creation of Israel. Those young men defied history with that
courageous charge and made history.”
Turnbull also said that he was also looking forward to his scheduled meeting with Palestinian
Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.