Australia is ready to follow U.S. President Donald Trump and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital and move its embassy there.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison expected to announce the historic change Saturday in the face of widespread opposition from the Muslim world.
AFP reports Australian holiday makers heading for nearby Muslim-majority Indonesia have been warned of a possible backlash after the announcement is made and they should “exercise a high degree of caution” while Arab nations are talking of a financial sanctions against Australia.
Mr. Morrison will argue Israel has the right to choose its own capital and peace talks are dead in the water, so there is no real peace to keep if Australia moves its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Indonesia’s government, facing domestic pressure at home, reacted angrily in October when the prime minister first floated the idea.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the move would “slap Indonesia’s face on the Palestine issue” and was joined in her condemnation by 13 Arab ambassadors in Australia who called the suggestion regrettable and asked Mr. Morrison to reconsider.
The potential move has already been hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
I spoke today with Australian PM @ScottMorrisonMP. He informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem. I’m very thankful to him for this. We will continue to strengthen ties between & !
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 15, 2018
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. U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, attended the ceremony.
Mr. Trump promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during his 2016 presidential campaign and announced the decision to proceed last December.
Some of Judaism’s holiest sites are located in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem; the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron; and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
The head of the Palestinian delegation in Canberra has reacted angrily to Mr. Morrison’s decision, warning it would be “a recipe for damaging and destroying the peace process in the Middle East.”
Mr. Izzat Abdulhadi said Arab nations are also prepared to withdraw ambassadors over the issue, and may consider economic sanctions.
“Our reaction will be difficult,” he told 9 News Australia. “We will ask Arab governments to take difficult actions against Australia.
“We will talk to Saudis, Gulf States, and also OIC countries to boycott meat and wheat from Australia.”
Mr Abdulhadi says he’s spoken not only with his Foreign Minister in recent days, but also representatives from other Arab and Muslim-majority countries, including Indonesia.
“I can tell you there will be huge damage actually,” he said.
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