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Netanyahu slams UN, denies corruption on Australia visit

The Israeli prime minister thanked Australia for its support against the "absurd" United Nations. On the trip, he was also forced to confront fraud allegations over his friendship with billionaire James Packer.

Benjamin Netanyahu became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Australia on Wednesday. Both Netanyahu and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull used the opportunity to blast the United Nations, which in December passed a resolution which condemned settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

"My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the UN Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state," Turnbull wrote in an editorial for "The Australian" newspaper.

Watch video 01:52

Israel: Netanyahu angry over UN resolution

Turnbull's statement prompted Netanyahu to praise Australia for being "courageously willing to puncture UN hypocrisy more than once."

"The UN is capable of many absurdities and I think it's important that you have straightforward and clear-eyed countries like Australia that often bring it back to earth," he added after his meeting with Turnbull.

The Australian leader made it clear, however, that in contrast to US President Donald Trump, Canberra was not prepared to walk back its support of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Turnbull did not believe it was the place of the United Nations to stop Israeli settlement building, he added the caveat that Australia, like most countries, still viewed their construction as illegal.

"We support an outcome which has two states where Israelis, the Israeli people, the Palestinian people live side-by-side as a result of direct negotiations between them," he told reporters in Sydney.

Netanyahu brushes off corruption questions

Netanyahu was also pressed about his relationship with Australian billionaire and investor James Packer. According to "The Guardian" newspaper, the premier was "not worried at all" about an inquiry in Israel over whether he received kickbacks from Packer, who is trying to gain Israeli residency.

"I won't comment on details," the prime minister said, "but I say I think nothing will come of it because there is nothing there, except friendship."

Netanyahu's trip will focus on boosting economic and defense cooperation. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations against his visit were expected in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

Watch video 01:43

US drops commitment to two-state solution

es/se (AFP, Reuters)

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