Australia Could be the Next Country to Move Its Embassy to Jerusalem

The train entering a tunnel in the Jerusalem mountains

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and transferring the embassy there.

By contrast, the USA administration has yet to officially endorse the notion of Palestinian statehood (Trump said last month that he likes the two-state solution and finds it the most feasible option, but later clarified that he was happy with any solution the two sides can agree on).

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering the move.

However, given that one of Indonesia's foremost foreign policy positions is support for a Palestinian state, Mr Morrison's declaration in support of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has not gone down well in Jakarta.

Representatives from 13 Middle Eastern and North African embassies in Australia have slammed the move as a "fatal mistake" that could result in a breakdown in economic relations with the Arab and Muslim world, the Guardian reported.

If Australia does indeed relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, it will become the third country to recognize the city as the capital of Israel.

Arab diplomats, foreign affairs experts, and former officials have said the government's provocative announcement was counter to Australia's interests and the peace process, and questioned the timing of the announcement just days out from Saturday's knife-edge byelection in the Sydney seat of Wentworth, an electorate with a large Jewish community. If Sharma were to lose to an independent rival, Morrison's government would lose its single-seat majority.

"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. She added: "Indonesia asks Australia and other countries to continue supporting the Palestine-Israel peace process in accordance with the principles that have been agreed, and to not take steps that may threaten the peace process and world stability".

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

In September after a "re-examination", Paraguay flipped on its former President Horacio Cartes' decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem deeming it "unjustified" sparking swift diplomatic retaliation by Israel.

Political opponents said Mr Morrison's comments were a "deceitful" ploy for votes ahead of a crucial by-election.

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

Morrison denied that the United States or the by-election had influenced his announcement.

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

"I am open to further pursuing (moving the embassy) and doing that together with Cabinet colleagues", The Daily Telegraph quoted Morrison as saying. Frankly, our current policy of adherence to the JCPOA nuclear deal is not serving Australia's most basic national interests, given both the opposition of the US Administration and most Arab states to it, and the reality that its provisions all but guarantee a nuclear-armed Iran in a few years time.

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