Morrison made a ‘mistake’ in shifting Israel embassy, the country’s minister says

Scott Morrison confirmed he would consider moving Australia's embassy in Israel in December from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Scott Morrison confirmed he would consider moving Australia's embassy in Israel in December from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Photo: TND

Scott Morrison has made “a mistake” according to Israel in trying to please everyone with his compromise over recognising West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

As Malaysia slammed the decision as “premature” before the settlement of the two state solution and an insult to Palestine, the outcome has also failed to thrill Israel.  

The Malaysian foreign ministry expressed its strong opposition to the changes in a statement on Sunday.

“This announcement, made before the settlement of a two-state solution, is premature and a humiliation to the Palestinians and their struggle for the right to self-determination,” the ministry said

The Prime Minister announced the decision over the weekend, but stopped short of immediately moving Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv. 

Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s minister for regional cooperation and a confidant of the Prime Minister called Mr Morrison’s stance a “mistake”.

 “To our regret, within this positive news they made a mistake,” Mr Hanegbi said.

“There is no division between the east of the city and west of the city. Jerusalem is one whole, united. Israel’s control over it is eternal. Our sovereignty will not be partitioned nor undermined. And we hope Australia will soon find the way to fix the mistake it made.”

Despite warnings from security agency ASIO that the move could spark protests in Indonesia, Mr Morrison was standing by the move. 

Travellers to Bali and Indonesia have been warned protests could erupt in the wake of the Prime Minister’s announcement.

“Well, the decision was made yesterday and we haven’t seen anything of that nature at this point. I think the responses that we have seen from countries so far has been measured,” Mr Morrison said on Sunday. 

When he met with Indonesian President Widodo, the Prime Minister stressed that Australia would continue to respect a two-state outcome.

While the official advice level has not been increased for travel to Indonesia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reminded travellers over the weekend that demonstrations have been held in recent weeks around the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the Australian Consulate-General in Surabaya. 

“Protests may continue at the Embassy in Jakarta or at any of Australia’s Consulates-General in Surabaya, Bali and Makassar,’’ a spokesman said. 

“We haven’t changed our level of advice – ‘Exercise a high degree of caution’ in Indonesia overall, including Bali,” he said. 

“Exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including in Bali, Surabaya and Jakarta, because of the high threat of terrorist attack. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor media for the latest information about safety or security risks.”

Israel initially welcomed Australia’s recognition of west Jerusalem as its capital as “a step in the right direction”. 

“Israel views the decision of the Australian government to open its trade and defence office in Jerusalem as a step in the right direction,” a foreign ministry statement said Sunday.

“Israel congratulates the government of Australia for its stance regarding sanctions on Iran and also regarding its pro-Israel position at the UN and against antisemitism.”

But Labor described the compromise as a “humiliating” face saving exercise by the PM.

“Labor is a strong supporter of the state of Israel. That will never change,” opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said.

Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on the grounds that this is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations and two-state solution,” Ms Wong added.

 “We will not support any policy that undermines the prospect of a two-state solution which recognises Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognised boundaries and the creation of a Palestinian state.”

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