Australia considering to shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: PM

Frederick Owens
October 18, 2018

Australia's new prime minister, Scott Morrison said on Tuesday he was open to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and described it as a sensible proposal.

Australia is considering recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy to Jerusalem, according to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem.

Co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said The Executive Council of Australian Jewry warmly welcomed the announcements by Prime Minister Morrison regarding the status of Jerusalem, the Iran Deal and the Palestinian bid to chair a United Nations group, the G77.

Indonesia, which has at times had strained ties with Australia, reiterated its position that the status of Jerusalem must be negotiated as part of a two-state solution in the Middle East dispute between the Palestinians and Israel.

He attributes his radical departure from long-standing global consensus to the persuasive powers of a former Australian ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, the Liberal Party's candidate in this Saturday's byelection in former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's electorate of Wentworth, which has an unusually high proportion of Jewish voters.

Morrison said no decision had been made to move Australia's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but he said arguments in favour of such a move were "persuasive".

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.

In Morrison's words, his government would consider abandoning Australian policy in place since Israel seized the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the River Jordan from the Arabs in 1967. "It has not come up in any discussion I have had with the president or with officials", Morrison said.

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Voters in the Sydney harbourside electorate of Wentworth will decide on Saturday who will replace former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who quit politics after he was ousted in a party-room revolt in August.

Sharma rejected those claims, saying the announcement "has to do with the timing of the United Nations resolution on which we need to take a position and articulate our views".

If the embassy move is realized, Australia would become the third country in the world to have its envoys based in the disputed city. That is, until the USA under Donald Trump moved its embassy to Jerusalem this year.

"We'll do our best that it will cause damage to Australia's relations with the Arab world ..."

The main opposition Labor party, which polls show is on track to win national elections that must be held by May, said Tuesday's announcement showed just how desperate the government is to win in Wentworth.

The Israeli reaction has been muted due to concerns Australia would recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

"Equally important", Dr Rubenstein said "is the commitment to review Australian policy toward Iran".

Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked worldwide condemnation, with Indonesia being one of the most vocal in its opposition.

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