Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Australia PM open to shifting Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Australia PM open to shifting Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Mr McCarthy, who has served as Australia's ambassador in seven overseas capitals including Jakarta and Washington, said any decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem would be "very poorly regarded internationally".

Morrison "informed me that he is considering officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem".

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.

He said it may be possible for his nation to support a two-state solution and recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital - something that Australia had "to date assumed" was unfeasible.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his approval on Monday.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had rejected the proposal when it was urged on them by the Government's conservative wing earlier this year, in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to make the same move.

Morrison said Australia remained committed to finding a two-state solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.

'Foreign policy, and Australia's national interest are far too important to be played with in this fashion, ' Senator Wong said.

Morrison rejected suggestions that his decision to consider following Trump's lead was a result of USA pressure or related to the by-election in Sydney's Wentworth district on Saturday.

But Morrison denied the United States influenced his announcement.

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.

Jewish Labor frontbencher, Mark Dreyfus, said it was a desperate act by the prime minister so anxious about losing the blue ribbon seat of Wentworth, he's "prepared to up end" decades of bi-partisan foreign policy.

"This is a regular part of our management of these foreign affairs relationships and I am pleased to be able to explain very clearly the nature of the announcements I have made today and I have been very pleased with the response that [we] have received from President Joko Widodo and we'll continue to work closely and cooperatively with our allies and with our partners all around the world on these issues", Mr Morrison said.

Australia and Israel will appoint defence attaches in respective embassies.

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