Indonesia warns Australia over possible Jerusalem move

The train entering a tunnel in the Jerusalem mountains

Scott Morrison said that he was considering following the Trump administration's decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which provoked an angry response from Indonesia, a strong supporter of Palestinian claims to the city.

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.

He commented: It has always been the position of the ECAJ that Australia should recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and consider relocating the Australian embassy, now in Tel Aviv, to the government precinct in west Jerusalem. "I'm not sure to what degree the PM and the people immediately around him are focused on this issue, but they should be aware of these sensitivities".

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".

The U.S. Embassy became the only foreign embassy in Jerusalem in May, and Guatemala and Paraguay followed Washington's lead days later and also moved their embassies, although Paraguay returned its mission to Tel Aviv last month.

Mr Morrison has previously said his decision regarding Jerusalem came after talks with Wentworth by-election candidate and former Israel ambassador, Dave Sharma.

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.

Indonesia's trade minister, Enggartiasto Lukita, denied Australian media reports on Tuesday that Jakarta was considering putting the pact on hold over the possibility of Canberra changing its stance on Israel.

"Indonesia conveys our strong concern on the announcement and question the merit of the announcement", Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said, referring to the potential embassy move.

"Scott Morrison is now so desperate to hang on to his job, he is prepared to say anything if he thinks it will win him a few more votes -even at the cost of Australia's national interest", said Labor's foreign policy spokeswoman Penny Wong. If Sharma were to lose to an independent rival, Morrison's government would lose its single-seat majority.

Turnbull's government had explicitly distanced itself from the decision by Trump to move the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as "unhelpful" to the peace process.

Trump's move ruptured decades of worldwide consensus that Jerusalem's status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission said: "We applaud this announcement by Prime Minister Morrison which rightly acknowledges the indisputable reality that Jerusalem has been the capital city of Israel for 70 years, and in doing so grants the Jewish state the respect accorded to other nations".

Morrison, an evangelical Christian, denied the potential embassy switch was motivated by domestic politics, his religious beliefs, or that Australia's main strategic ally, the USA, had influenced the decision.

Stressing that "no decision" has yet been made, Morrison promised to consult his cabinet as well as world leaders before making the bold move. "We do so in our own national interests consistent with our own beliefs and our own values".

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