Israel says Australia considering moving embassy to Jerusalem

Posted at 9:57 PM, Oct 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 02:52:31-04

Australia is considering recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy to Jerusalem, according to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu spoke on the phone on Monday with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who informed the Israeli leader that he was “weighing officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem,” according to a readout of the call from Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office.

During a press conference in Canberra Tuesday, Morrison told reporters that a decision is yet to be made about whether to relocate the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

He said, “No decision has been made in regarding the recognition of the capital or the movement of an embassy,” but that Australia’s “government is open-minded about this.”

He added that, in the next few months, he would “confer with cabinet colleagues” and “with other leaders around the world to gauge the perception of this and to make the case.”

Morrison also reiterated Australia’s commitment “to a two-state solution,” but added: “Frankly, it hasn’t been going that well. Not a lot of progress has been made.”

He added that “recognition of the capital or the movement of an embassy” were two separate issues.

The move would make Australia the third country to have its embassy in Jerusalem, joining the United States and Guatemala.

Paraguay had initially moved its embassy to Jerusalem following America’s lead, but the country’s new leader reversed the decision recently.

Netanyahu and Morrison also reportedly spoke about ways to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

The United States officially relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. US President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, attended the ceremony.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his decision to relocate the embassy was slammed by Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Old City of Jerusalem is home to religious sites that are sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.