Australia considering to shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: PM

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he was "open to" relocating his country's embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the city as the capital of Israel.

"Australia should be open-minded to this", Mr Morrison said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, speaks to the media alongside Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne at the Parliament House in Canberra, October 16, 2018.

Palestinians see east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as the capital of a future independent state. "I'm very thankful to him for this".

Morrison's Liberal government holds only a one-seat majority and a loss in the election would eviscerate it.

However, Indonesian government has not made any representations to Australia about the free trade agreement or whether it was in jeopardy, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said.

Voters in a key Sydney electorate are to go to the polls on Saturday, with Morrison's Liberal party candidate, a former ambassador to Israel, trailing in the final stretch.

"What we are simply doing is being open to that suggestion", Morrison explained.

Jerusalem is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.

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Morrison said Australia remained committed to finding a two-state solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, speaking at a news conference with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Jakarta on Tuesday, called on Australia to avoid any step that would threaten efforts to forge peace in the Middle East.

Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, with almost 90% of the country's citizens, around 225 million, adherents of the religion.

A Tuesday statement published by the official Palestinian WAFA news agency claimed Morrison "harmed Australia's interests and its global standing", and urged the Australian opposition, civil society organizations, the business sector and the Arab and Islamic communities to press the Australian government to reconsider its position.

The US Embassy became the only foreign embassy in Jerusalem in May, and Guatemala and Paraguay followed Washington's lead days later and also moved their embassies, although Paraguay returned its mission to Tel Aviv last month.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates concluded by saying it awaits the Prime Minister of Australia to reconsider these "damaging statements" to Australian interests and its global positions.

In a May article, Sharma wrote of the U.S. embassy move: "Now that the United States has broken the taboo, as a pragmatic and solution-oriented nation Australia should be prepared to lend our support to this common-sense proposition. Such action will only encourage the occupying state to refuse to return to the negotiating table with Palestine, thereby preventing the possibility of achieving a lasting peace, the goal which Mr. Morrison talks about", it added.

Ambassadors from 13 Arab countries met in Canberra on Tuesday, concerned that Australia's move to consider recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital could damage peace prospects there, Egypt's ambassador said.

Penny Wong, a lawmaker with opposition Labor Party, accused the prime minister of putting politics ahead of Australia's long-term national interest.

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