Australian PM Possibly Recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli Capital

Clay Curtis
October 18, 2018

A statement issued by Netanyahu's office said he had spoken to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison by phone on Monday, and that Morrison had said he was "considering official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and moving its embassy there".

Morrison's openness to recognizing Jerusalem and moving Australia's embassy there comes four days before a by-election in Sydney where his center-right coalition faces the risk of losing its tenuous hold on power.

The Trump administration turned its back on decades of United States policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the USA embassy from Tel Aviv in May. Wentworth is home to a significant-sized Jewish community and a Sharma loss in the election means Morrison would lose his one-seat majority in Parliament, leading critics to accuse Morrison of playing politics with the country's foreign policy.

He attributes his radical departure from long-standing worldwide 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.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed at least 52 Palestinians during protests along the border of the Gaza Strip, according to the BBC, on the bloodiest day there since the 2014 Gaza war.

"We will continue to strengthen ties between", he said in the Tweet.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the government questions the merits of Morrison's announcement and has conveyed its "strong concern".

Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, with almost 90% of the country's citizens, around 225 million, adherents of the religion.

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Fiona Simson, president of Australia's National Farmers Federation, which represents the rural sector, cautioned Morrison against any move that would threaten exports.

It has the unintended effect of making it hard for Indonesian President Joko Widodo to pursue a positive relationship with Canberra.

He commented: It has always been the position of the ECAJ that Australia should recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and consider relocating the Australian embassy, now in Tel Aviv, to the government precinct in west Jerusalem.

Morrison and Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo plan to sign an agreement this year aimed at boosting trade and investment.

This claim has prompted debates in Australia and overseas, as the status of Jerusalem has been one of the key stumbling stones for negotiating a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.

While many Arabs and Muslims expressed sharp opposition to the US relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May and threatened action, the strong rhetoric did not manifest itself in violent protests.

"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 the opposition Labour party foreign policy spokeswoman Penny Wong.

Mark Leibler concluded by stating "These new Australian foreign policy announcements are courageous, measured and principled - and most welcome".

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