Egypt, Indonesia warn Australia against moving embassy to Jerusalem

Charlene Craig
October 19, 2018

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday to reconsider statements he made regarding recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, stressing that such a move would be "in violation of worldwide law and United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 478 (1980)".

Morrison earlier said he was "open-minded" to "sensible" proposals to formally recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move his nation's embassy, a sharp break with the policy of successive Australian governments.

Morrison, who took office in August, said that by moving the embassy to Jerusalem "we could potentially, should we end up going down that path, be able to advance the two-state solution process".

Indonesia, which has at times had strained ties with Australia, reiterated its position that the status of Jerusalem must be negotiated as part of a two-state solution in the Middle East dispute between the Palestinians and Israel.

The candidate contesting the by-election for Morrison's Liberal party, Dave Sharma, is a former Australian ambassador to Israel who was credited with the idea to relocate the embassy.

In December, U.S. President Donald Trump triggered world outcry after unveiling plans to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and declare the city as the capital of Israel.

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Within hours, the speech had also drawn ire from two of Australia's key regional neighbours - Indonesia and Malaysia, both Muslim-majority countries.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, October 16, 2018.

West Jerusalem, where the Knesset and the other main organs of the Israeli government are located, has been sovereign Israeli territory since 1948. He denied that his comments on Tuesday were aimed at Wentworth's large Jewish community.

"We support a two-state solution and our view has been that any shift in representation, in the way we saw with the United States, does not move us closer to that peaceful resolution", said the New Zealand Prime Minister.

Israel's victory in the Six-Day War gave it control of Arab East Jerusalem, including the Old City.

"Indonesia conveys our strong concern on the announcement and questions the merit of the announcement", she said after consultations with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki on Tuesday.

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

Other Arab nations had also criticized Trump's move, and the Arab League published a joint statement emphasizing that East Jerusalem should become the capital of Palestine.

"The Liberal and National parties, we stand with Israel", Morrison said and then referred to comments by Labour representative Tanya Plibersek who in 2002 said Israel is a "rogue state".

Critics, in a policy shift, say that this is a desperate grab for domestic political gain to win a crucial by-election due on Saturday in Australia.

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.

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