Former Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the time has come to move Australia’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in defiance of threats from Muslim-majority neighbours Indonesia and Malaysia.
Mr. Abbott has joined fellow Liberal Party elder John Howard and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in backing the move, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a recent by-election campaign.
The former premier said Monday that the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem so Australia can show its support for the “only functioning liberal pluralist democracy” in the Middle East.
“I think by far the preferable course of action, particularly now that we’ve announced that we are considering it, is to do what should be done and that is, put our embassy in the capital of this very friendly country that deserves our support,” he told Sky News.
.@TonyAbbottMHR on whether Australia should move its Israel embassy: You’ve got to stick to your guns. @ScottMorrisonMP announced that we were considering moving the embassy – I think there are very strong arguments for it.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) November 18, 2018
“Israel is a country under existential threat, it is a sibling pluralist democracy, it’s a country which shares our values, which in important respects, metaphorically at least, speaks our language.
“And why shouldn’t we be showing solidarity with the only functioning liberal pluralist democracy in the Middle East, by supporting them and putting our embassy in their capital?”
Some of Judaism’s holiest sites are located around Jerusalem, capital of the Jewish state, including the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem; the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron; and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
Australia drew pushback from Asian leaders on the possible move last week at the ASEAN summit including Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, with the latter saying the move would make the country a larger target for terrorists.
“In dealing with terrorism, one has to know the causes,” Mahathir said. “Adding to the cause for terrorism is not going to be helpful.”
Australia does have support in its ambitions, as Breitbart Jerusalem Bureau Chief Aaron Klein has noted:
In May, the United States became the first country to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a show of support for Israel that angered the Muslim world.
Mr. Frydenberg cited previous remarks by Mahathir in which he disparaged followers of Judaism as evidence of why Australia should not react to threats.
“He has questioned the number of people that have been killed in the Holocaust,” Mr. Frydenberg said. “He banned Schindler’s List as a movie being shown, even though it showed the amazing story of a righteous Gentile who saved many people from persecution.”
Mr. Morrison responded by saying the treasurer is “filling in the history” on Mahathir’s “record on various issues over time.”
“Australia decides foreign policy,” he said. “I am not going to have our policy dictated by those outside the country.”
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