Prime Minister Scott Morrison is being accused of playing “desperate” and risky politics with highly sensitive foreign policy after he announced the government would consider recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a contentious move that would bring Australia into line with the Trump administration and antagonise the Muslim world.
The apparent openness to shifting Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv has been unveiled just days ahead of the high-stakes byelection in Wentworth, an electorate with a large Jewish population. The Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel, has been a vocal advocate for reconsidering Australia’s decades-long position.
The Prime Minister has also announced the government would review Australia’s support for the Iran nuclear deal to see whether it was still “fit for purpose” in preventing the country from acquiring nuclear weapons. Mr Trump has withdrawn the US from the Obama-era deal, which has faced hostility from Israel.
The Palestinian representative in Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, and Middle East experts rebuked Mr Morrison’s new position as a domestic political ploy that could damage the peace process and Australia’s standing with Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Mr Abdulhadi, who is organising an emergency meeting with Middle Eastern embassies in Canberra, said the government’s announcement was “very regrettable” and accused Mr Morrison of abandoning long-held foreign policy to help Mr Sharma get elected.