Australia considers moving embassy to Jerusalem

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

A proposal by Australia's prime minister to join Donald Trump in recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital has endangered a free trade deal between Canberra and Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, speaking at a joint news conference with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Jakarta, reaffirmed Indonesia's support for a two-state solution to the Middle East dispute and warned Australia against the risk of insecurity. 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.

A loss in the election would wipe out Morrison's one-seat majority in parliament.

"We're committed to a two-state solution but, frankly, it hasn't been going that well". "The other one hasn't been working that well", the newspaper reported.

Morrison also said no decision has been made on the issue, but added that "Australia should be open-minded to this and I am open-minded to this and our government is open-minded to this".

Morrison told Parliament that he had briefed Jokowi overnight about the announcement.

Australia is due to a sign a trade deal this year with Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, where the Palestinian question is a sensitive issue and tens of thousands protested against Mr Trump's decision.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had recently spoken to Morrison and welcomed the Australian policy shift. Most foreign nations have avoided locating embassies there for fear of prejudging peace talks on the city's final status - until Trump unilaterally moved the U.S. embassy there earlier this year. "I hope Australia would reconsider that position before taking action".

Indonesia had also criticised the USA embassy move and warned that it would threaten the peace process.

S., which had already moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

The opposition centre-left Labor Party denounced Morrison's announcement.

"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.

In a strongly-worded statement, Izzar Abdulhadi warned that the embassy relocation would "make Australia a pariah state" and damage "Australia's global standing and. relations with Arab and Muslim-dominated countries".

Morrison took office in August after a rebellion within the ranks of the Liberal Party ousted his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull.

"I have made this decision without any reference to the United States".

"I am open to further pursuing (moving the embassy) and doing that together with Cabinet colleagues", The Daily Telegraph quoted Morrison as saying. They suspected that the politician was trying to make some political gains, which "would surely be outweighed by the detriment both to Australia's worldwide standing and in its relations with Arab and Muslim-majority countries".

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