Australia’s governor-general will become the country’s first head of state to visit Israel while in office.
Maj-Gen. Michael Jeffery and his wife will lead a delegation of Australians to Beersheba to officiate at the April 28 opening of the Park of the Australian Soldier.
The queen’s representative will join Israeli President Shimon Peres, who invited him, at the opening of the $2.8 million park funded by Australian philanthropist Richard Pratt.
“Australia greatly values its strong and long-standing friendship with Israel, a friendship based on shared democratic values, strong cultural ties and commercial relations,” Jeffery said in a statement. “The visit will provide an opportunity to reinforce these relationships at the very highest levels.”
The park, which features a playground for children with disabilities, is being built in honor of the Australian soldiers who died fighting in the Middle East in World Wars I and II. About 800 Australians, including descendants of the soldiers, are expected to make the trip to Beersheba.
Specifically the park honors the role of Australian soldiers in October 1917, when the 4th Light Horse Brigade defeated the Turks in the Battle of Beersheba in what is described as the last great cavalry charge in history.