Scott Morrison open to moving Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Scott Morrison open to moving Australia's embassy in Israel to 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 United States did earlier this year in a move that drew draw harsh criticism both from Palestinians and the worldwide community.

Facing a domestic backlash and the threat of foreign trade retaliation, Australia's Prime Minister on Tuesday appeared to slow-peddle a controversial decision to move the country's embassy to Jerusalem, saying he would first consult with allies.

And the Liberal candidate contesting the by-election on Saturday, Dave Sharma, is a former Australian ambassador to Israel who has floated the idea in the past. Wentworth is home to a significant-sized Jewish community and a Sharma loss in the election means Morrison would lose his one-seat majority in Parliament, leading critics to accuse Morrison of playing politics with the country's foreign policy.

Morrison went on to say his government will be reconsidering its support for the Iran Nuclear Deal, which President Trump has long-called one of the worst deals ever made. "I think we have to challenge that", he said. "We will continue to strengthen ties" between Israel and Australia.

The landmark free trade agreement was supposed to be signed before the end of the year, but a senior Indonesian government source told ABC News that the pact was now in doubt over Mr Morrison's position.

But Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the government questions the merits of Morrison's announcement and has conveyed its "strong concern".

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

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A pilot sits in the cockpit of an F-35 fighter jet preparing for a training mission at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah. Initial data from the ongoing investigation into the September 28 crash indicates a fuel tube may have been faulty.

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.

Mr Morrison confirmed he had also ordered a review into Australia's involvement in the nuclear deal with Iran, again bringing Australian foreign policy closer to that of President Trump.

The US 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 is expected to make an announcement on Tuesday as part of a foreign policy statement on Israel, in Canberra.

"The people of Wentworth, and all Australians, deserve a leader who puts the national interest ahead of his self-interest, and governs in the best long-term interest of the nation", Labor lawmaker Penny Wong said.

He said no decision had been made and he was simply being open to the suggestion. "It has not come up in any discussion that I have had with the president or officials".

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