Morrison brushes off Turnbull's advice against moving Australia's Israel embassy
Australian politics Morrison brushes off Turnbullâs advice against moving Australiaâs Israel embassy
Former PM says if embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem there would be a âvery negative reaction in Indonesiaâ
Scott Morrison has insisted that any decision Australia makes about shifting its embassy in Israel will be in the national interest, not with an eye to placating allies, after Malcolm Turnbull highlighted Indonesiaâs concerns about the move.
Turnbull late on Monday implicitly warned his successor against following through with the controversial foreign policy shift Morrison telegraphed in the run-up to the Wentworth byelection, after the former prime minister met with the Indonesian president on Monday.
He met Joko Widodo as part of an Australian delegation attending a global conference. After their conversation Turnbull said Jokowi had expressed âserious concernâ about the proposal to shift Australiaâs embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.Australia's spy agency warned government Israel embassy move could provoke violent unrest Read more
âThere is no question, were that move to occur, it would be met with a very negative reaction in Indonesia,â he said. âThis is after all the largest Muslim-majority country in the world.â
Shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would mimic Donald Trumpâs policy in the Middle East. After Trump telegraphed the US position Turnbull contemplated whether Australia should follow suit, and dismissed the idea partly out of concern that the move would spark a significant diplomatic backlash in Jakarta.
Morrison brushed off the public advice from the former prime minister in Canberra on Monday morning. Declaring Australia was a sovereign nation, Morrison said the determining factor in the decision would be Australiaâs national interest.
âAustralia will always make our decisions on our foreign policy based on our interests and will do that as a sovereign nation,â Morrison told reporters.
âWe will listen to others but Australia will always make decisions about our foreign policy on our terms and in our interests. I have always put our interests first and that is how the decision will be made.â
He sa id a final decision on the policy had not yet been made by the government, and he said âproper processâ would be followed: âBut let me stress, Australia decides what our foreign policy is and only Australia.â
Morrison floated the idea of shifting the embassy in the dying days of the Wentworth byelection campaign, provoking reactions within the Jewish community varying between delight and cynicism.
Rabbi Levi Wolff, from the Orthodox Central Synagogue in Bondi, congratulated the Australian government for being open to the idea, saying it was a simple statement that Israel â" the only free democracy in the Middle East â" has the freedom to choose where it wants its capital.
But Vivienne Porzsolt, from Jews Against the Occupation, said it was an insult to the Jewish community which encompassed a much broader range of views than that reflected âin the pronouncements of the Jewish leadership in lockstep with the state of Israelâ.
More than 12% of voters in the Wentworth electorate are Jewish. The Liberals lost the seat to the high-profile independent, Kerryn Phelps.Australian embassy in Israel may be moved to Jerusalem Read more
Turnbullâs appearance at the Our Ocean conference in Bali this week was not without controversy, but his close relationship with Jokowi, whom he referred to as his âgood friendâ, was seen as useful in repairing relations with Australiaâs northern neighbour.
The pair met for 40 minutes and discussed the embassy issue as well as an upcoming bilateral trade deal between Australian and Indonesia, which the government feared may have been under threat.
Turnbull said Jokowi had âexpressed to me, as he has done to prime minister Morrison, the very serious concern held in Indonesia about the prospect of the Australian embassy in Israel being moved from Tel Aviv to ÂJerusalemâ.
He also said he was confident that the Indonesia Australia comprehensive ec onomic partnership agreement â" which has taken eight years of negotiation â" would be signed within weeks.
âI have no reason to believe it wonât,â he said. âOf course, it then has to be ratified through the Indonesian parliamentary system in the normal way.âTopics
- Australian politics
- Malcolm Turnbull
- Asia Pacific
- Scott Morrison
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