SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A joint delegation of Australian and British parliamentarians met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart, Salam Fayyad.
The delegation, organized by Australian businessman and philanthropist Albert Dadon, was in Israel for the first edition of the Australia-United Kingdom-Israel Leadership Forum.
The forum, founded by Dadon in 2009, previously was comprised of Israeli and Australian lawmakers, along with high-profile members of business, media and academia, who engaged in a private two-day dialogue on issues of mutual strategic importance.
Dadon, a French-Moroccan who grew up in Israel, said that “The addition of the UK added a new dimension to our debates, as the trilateral interaction was stimulating to all.”
The group was joined by Middle East envoy Tony Blair and Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister currently fighting corruption charges, who gave the keynote speech at a gala dinner at the King David Hotel last week.
"The fact that we debated four prime ministers in two days made this dialogue very special,” Dadon said.
The Australia Israel Leadership Forum was established by Dadon to further cement bilateral ties between Canberra and Jerusalem.
British and Australian lawmakers from both sides of politics were represented. Among the Australian contingent in Jerusalem was Mark Arbib, federal minister for sport and assistant treasurer; Jewish members of Parliament Michael Danby and Joshua Frydenberg; and The Australian newspaper’s foreign editor, Greg Sheridan. The Britons included Alistair Burt, minister for the Middle East, and Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard.
In 2001, Dadon founded the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, which features the annual Australian Film Festival in Israel.