Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Australian PM mulling recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Australian PM mulling recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Australia says it is considering recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "capital" and relocating its embassy to the occupied Palestinian city just as the U.S. did earlier this year in a move that drew draw harsh criticism both from Palestinians and the worldwide community.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, October 16, 2018.

Australia may follow the United States' lead and relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, bucking decades of tradition.

Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Morrison's initiative, the response from neighbouring Indonesia - the world's largest Muslim nation - was less welcoming.

"Scott Morrison is now so desperate to hang on to his job, he is prepared to say anything if he thinks it will win him a few more votes -- even at the cost of Australia's national interest", said opposition Labor party foreign policy spokeswoman Penny Wong. "We will continue to strengthen ties between", he said in the Tweet.

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Furthermore, the Palestinians are already protesting, arguing that a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem "would make Australia an worldwide pariah on this important foreign-policy issue" and threatening that it would hurt the country's relations with Arab and Muslim-majority countries.

Mr Morrison has also announced the government would review Australia's support for the Iran nuclear deal to see whether it was still "fit for purpose" in preventing the country from acquiring nuclear weapons after Mr Trump withdrew the USA from the Obama-era deal.

Australia would be "violating global law" and United Nations security council resolutions if it proceeded with the embassy move, said Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki, who was in Jakarta on an official visit Tuesday.

When the government forced former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from office in August, he quit Parliament.

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.

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The Trump administration turned its back on decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv in May. He said he would only engage on the core issue and Australia was a serious country that does not make "frivolous decisions".

The status of Jerusalem is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald quoted Morrison on its website as saying the question of recognizing Jerusalem "was something he would "discuss. further with cabinet colleagues in the coming months".

The decision prompted the 13 ambassadors to call a meeting in the Australian capital, Mohamed Khairat, Egypt's ambassador to Australia told Reuters by telephone.

Netanyahu has attempted to persuade other countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

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