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Australia Hints at Moving Embassy to Jerusalem, Sparks Anger Among Palestinians

Australia Hints at Moving Embassy to Jerusalem, Sparks Anger Among Palestinians

Wednesday, 17 October, 2018 - 06:30
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a swearing-in ceremony in Canberra, Australia August 24, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray
Ramallah - Kifah Zaboun
Palestinians, Arab states and Malaysia have criticized Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that he would consider the possibility of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving his country’s embassy to it, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the step, which he described as “brave”.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta Tuesday that he was saddened by Australia’s possible violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions.

“Australia is risking trade and business relations with the rest of the world, especially the Arab and Muslim world,” he said.

The Palestinian foreign ministry accused Morrison of taking contradictory positions. It said that while he has repeatedly stressed adherence to the two-state solution and encouraged the parties to continue dialogue and negotiations towards a peace agreement, he was considering recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Commitment to the two-state solution means not taking any unilateral action that would undermine the status of Jerusalem,” the ministry said in a statement addressed to Morrison.

“Australia’s commitment to the concept of a two-state solution is not abstract or a formality that has nothing to do with any other issue such as Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees, security or water; but is linked to the outcome of the negotiations on these issues, which are considered the final status issues after which and when reaching understandings regarding them, it will be possible to sign a peace agreement that allows the implementation of the two-state solution,” it added.

The ministry called on Morrison to reconsider his statements which harm Australia's interests and its international standing.

The Palestinian position received immediate support from Egypt and Indonesia. The Indonesian foreign minister said her country supported the two-state solution in the Middle East conflict and warned Australia against threatening security.

“Indonesia calls on Australia and other countries to support the peace talks... and not to take steps that will threaten the peace process and the stability of global security,” she said.

Israel immediately welcomed a clear change in Australia’s policy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Morrison called to explain his position, wrote on Twitter that he was “very thankful to him for this.”

“We will continue to strengthen ties between” Israel and Australia, he added.

But later, Morrison appeared to have retreated in the face of considerable criticism, asserting that he wanted to consult with his allies first. While he said to be open to the idea of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he noted that he wanted to explore the views of the region’s leaders in this decision, before the government adopts a specific view on this issue.

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