Malcolm Turnbull arrives in Israel today ahead of four days of talks, including meetings with Palestinians.
A staunch supporter of Israel, Australia broke ranks with the international community last year by rebuking a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlement building. The closeness of the relationship was emphasised earlier this year when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Australia, “there’s no better friend for the state of Israel”.
Mr Turnbull is expected to impress the importance of a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The unification of Palestine’s Fatah and Hamas, along with renewed pressure from both Arab and US partners, has created fresh impetus for peace talks.
Undermining this though are Israeli plans to annex the settlements surrounding Jerusalem. The move would bring Jewish settlements in the west bank under the control of Jerusalem – effectively increasing the Jewish population by 150,000.
With concessions likely in any prospective peace deal, it can be expected that Israel will continue consolidating its holdings in the West Bank, thereby strengthening its leverage in the lead up to peace talks.
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