Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Australia may sour ties with ASEAN if embassy moves to Jerusalem - Anwar

Australia may sour ties with ASEAN if embassy moves to Jerusalem - Anwar

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Morrison had telephoned to explain his shift, said on Twitter he was "very thankful" Morrison was considering the move.

GETTY EDITORIAL Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia is "committed to a two-state solution, but frankly, it hasn't been going that well".

Morrison, whose government faces a crucial by-election that could weaken its grip on power, said Canberra was open to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving its embassy there.

In a move that signals the Morrison Government's first major foreign policy shift, Mr Morrison told reporters this morning that Australia retains its commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East, but said that a new approach was needed to push forward negotiations towards that goal.

The idea was proposed to him by Dave Sharma, a member of his party and former ambassador to Israel.

Even proponents of a two-State solution accept that western Jerusalem (the proposed site of the Australian embassy) would always be part of Israel's sovereign territory so there can be no genuine justification for opposing such a move.

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The United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital late a year ago and relocated its embassy there in mid-May.

"I intend to discuss this further with Cabinet colleagues in the coming months", he said.

Morrison also announced that Australia would vote against a United Nations resolution this week to recognize the Palestinian Authority as the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and would review the three-year-old Iran nuclear deal.

Morrison's Liberal party faces a potential byelection upset in what was previously considered a safe seat in the key Sydney electorate of Wentworth.

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". U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, attended the ceremony.

If the embassy move is realized, Australia would become the third country in the world to have its envoys based in the disputed city.

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Morrison's statements follow the USA controversially moving its embassy to Jerusalem in May, sparking mass rioting and global condemnation.

"How can Australia continue to encourage the Palestinian side while doing exactly the opposite when it declares its intention to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?" it said.

In a statement, Palestine's embassy in Australia called Morrison's announcement "deeply disturbing".

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestine's Maliki, who is in Jakarta as part of a week-long celebration of Palestinian solidarity by Indonesia, said Australia was at risk of violating global law, as well as its business relations with the rest of the world.

Without any apparent pressing reason, it rejects advice from Australia's top foreign-policy makers.

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