Australia 'open-minded' to moving Israeli embassy to Jerusalem - PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Australia says it is considering recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "capital" and relocating its embassy to the occupied Palestinian city just as the USA did earlier this year in a move that drew draw harsh criticism both from Palestinians and the worldwide community.

"Indonesia encourages Australia and other nations to continue to support the peace process and not conduct any action that could undermine the peace process and global security, " she said after talks with visiting Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

"He informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem". The Liberal candidate contesting the by-election on Saturday is Dave Sharma, a former Australian ambassador to Israel who has floated the idea in the past.

Should it fail to win the seat, Morrison's government will lose its one-seat majority in the lower house, meaning it will be forced to rely on the support of minor parties to survive and pass legislation.

"We are committed to a two-state solution, but frankly, it hasn't been going that well - not a lot of progress has been made", he told reporters on Tuesday. "I think we have to challenge that", Morrison said earlier in Canberra. But Morrison's announcement was timed to coincide with a make-or-break moment for his fledgling premiership.

But the Labor opposition's Senate leader, Penny Wong, said Mr Morrison was playing "dangerous and deceitful word games with Australian foreign policy".

Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Morrison's initiative, the response from neighbouring Indonesia - the world's largest Muslim nation - was less welcoming.

"If he has to throw Australia under a bus in order to preserve that position, that is something he would have to give consideration to".

Morrison's openness to recognizing Jerusalem and moving Australia's embassy there comes four days before a by-election in Sydney at which his center-right coalition runs the risk of losing its tenuous hold on power.

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.

In May, the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city despite indignation throughout the Arab world and protests within the Palestinian territories, which left 60 demonstrators dead.

But Morrison denied the United States influenced his announcement.

The by-election is in the Sydney harbourside seat of Wentworth, vacated by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull after he was ousted in a Liberal Party coup in August.

"I intend to discuss this further with Cabinet colleagues in the coming months", he said.

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.

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