Australia open to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moving embassy

Adjust Comment Print

Ambassadors from 13 Arab countries met in Canberra on Tuesday, concerned that Australia's move to consider recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital could damage peace prospects there, Egypt's ambassador said.

In an interview with the Australian, Morrison reaffirmed that the decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem would not compromise his support for East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Morrison also said Australia would review its support for the Iran nuclear deal, under which sanctions were lifted in return for restraints on its nuclear programme "to determine whether our current policy settings remain fit for purpose".

"Foreign policy, and Australia's national interest are far too important to be played with in this fashion", Labor lawmaker Penny Wong said.

That is because the Indonesia President has been a supporter of free trade talks that were expected to culminate in a signed agreement some time in November.

Mr Maliki said he was saddened that Australia might violate worldwide law and disrespect a UN Security Council resolution.

"Morrison's embassy announcement seems reckless and has the potential to be received poorly in nations such Indonesia and Malaysia", said Greg Barton, chair in global Islamic politics at Melbourne's Deakin University. It said short-term political gain "would surely be outweighed by the detriment both to Australia's worldwide standing and in its relations with Arab and Muslim-majority countries". "Australia should be open-minded to this", Mr Morrison said.

Census figures show 12.5 percent of people in Wentworth are Jewish, a significantly larger proportion than elsewhere in Australia.

On Tuesday, Mr Morrison said his thinking had been guided by Australia's former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma.

Morrison said earlier on Tuesday the political orthodoxy that drove such debates suggested that discussion of the Israeli capital was "taboo".

"I have made this decision without any reference to the United States", he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper described his apparent change of heart as "unprincipled and craven".

When Morrison became prime minister in August, he made his first overseas trip to Indonesia, a near-neighbour that is the world's largest Muslim-majority nation and an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause.

He said: "It's a big change, it is out of step with everyone, except America".

The Wentworth vote is scheduled for Saturday.

While both Russian Federation and France offered to host delegations from Israel and Palestine for renewed peace talks, on December 6, 2017 Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The eastern sector of Jerusalem is considered to have been annexed by Israel in the 1967 war, while the Jewish State regards the whole city as its capital. The apparent change of policy was welcomed by Israel but swiftly criticised by Palestinian representatives.

Malaysia's PM in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim warned that Australia could jeopardise its relations with ASEAN countries by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Palestinians, with broad global backing, want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Peace talks between the parties broke down in 2014.

Comments