Australian PM floats controversial Jerusalem embassy move with eye on local election

Australian PM floats controversial Jerusalem embassy move with eye on local election

Morrison called a press conference to say he was "open-minded" to proposals to formally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move his nation's embassy to the holy city, a sharp break with the policy of successive Australian governments for decades.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted about his meeting with Australia's prime minister and his openness to moving his country's embassy to Jerusalem.

Morrison said it was suggested to him by Indian-origin former Australian ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, who is a candidate for the prime minister's conservative Liberal Party in a crucial by-election this week.

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.

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.

Scott Morrison said he was thinking about following President Trump's decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump's Jerusalem move marked the first time since the UN-brokered partition of Palestine in 1947 that a president of the United States - a member of the Middle East Quartet, which is charged with mediating the peace process between Palestine and Israel - has departed from the established policy that the issue of Jerusalem as Israel's capital should be kept off the table.

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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"I am open to further pursuing (moving the embassy) and doing that together with Cabinet colleagues", The Daily Telegraph quoted Morrison as saying.

Morrison is expected to deliver the announcement on Tuesday in a statement explaining why Australia will vote against recognizing the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the chair of the Group of 77 (G77) -the largest bloc of developing nations at the United Nations - the Australian reported.

The by-election is in the Sydney harbourside seat of Wentworth, vacated by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull after he was ousted in a Liberal Party coup in August.

Most countries do not locate their embassies in Jerusalem because its territorial status remains unresolved under the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The two-state solution means nothing without an equitable resolution to these final-status issues".

U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, right, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attend the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018.

"Australia makes its decisions about its foreign policy independently".

"Some of their [Labour] members, the member for Sydney, thinks Israel is a rogue state, Mr Speaker", Morrison continued. He is also questioned Australia's position in the Iran nuclear deal.

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