Indonesia warns Australia over possible Jerusalem move

Oct 17, 2018, 00:44
Indonesia warns Australia over possible Jerusalem move

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's indication of his support for moving Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has met with a frosty reception in Indonesia, with Jakarta reportedly mulling over whether to put an imminent trade deal with Canberra on hold.

Netanyahu tweeted afterwards that the Australian premier had "informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem [al-Quds] as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem [al-Quds]".

Mr Morrison said Australia remained committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Morrison said no decision had been made to move Australia's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but he said arguments in favour of such a move were "persuasive". Sharma is running in a special election on Saturday to fill the Australian House of Representatives seat of Wentworth, left vacant following the resignation of former Prime Minister and incumbent Liberal lawmaker Malcolm Turnbull.

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Defeat for Morrison's candidate - in a constituency with a sizeable Jewish population - would spell the end of his government's parliamentary majority and a bleak future for his months-old stint at the top of Australia's rough-and-tumble political heap.

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 other one hasn't been working that well", the newspaper reported. "I believe if they country proceed with the plan, its neighbouring countries in ASEAN must register a very, very strong protest against the Australian government", he warned.

"We will continue to work closely and cooperatively with our allies and our partners all around the world on these issue", Morrison told parliament.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, and Australia are due to sign a trade deal this year.

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Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she had conveyed her country's opposition to such a move to Australia.

The Prime Minister denied the looming by-election in Wentworth, which has a large Jewish community, had any impact on his decision on Australia's shift in approach to Middle East policy, or that his evangelical religious beliefs - a key factor in the shift in United States policy in the region - played any role.

Such a move, which would follow U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial decision in December to do just that, would also reverse decades of foreign policy and inflame tension with some of Australia's Asian neighbors.

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

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Several houses were flooded or damaged and 38 people sustained minor injuries but no one was feared dead, local officials said. The terminal building was closed for the day and the monorail as well as bus service to the airport were also suspended.

However Indonesian government has not made any representations to Australia about the free trade agreement or whether it was in jeopardy, Foreign Ministry spokesmanArrmanatha Nasir said.