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Experts: Moving Australian embassy to Jerusalem to be sensitive issue

23:46 | 29.10.2018 | Analytic

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29 October 2018. PenzaNews. The possibility of moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will be considered by December 2018. The relevant statement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared on the official website of the country’s government on October 16.

Experts: Moving Australian embassy to Jerusalem to be sensitive issue

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“The Australian Government has today made a number of important announcements in support of Australia’s interests in the Middle East and our continuing support for a durable and resilient two-state solution. As a package, these announcements reinforce our commitment to efforts towards resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, further strengthen our valuable relationship with Israel, and will review Australia’s policy in relation to Iran’s nuclear program,” says the joint media statement by Australian Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

According to the politicians, the government will consider this issue, “while acknowledging East Jerusalem as the expected capital of a future Palestinian state.”

Moreover, they stressed that “any decision will be subject to a rigorous assessment of the potential impact of such a move on our broader national interests.”

Commenting on the government statement, Clive Williams from the Australian National University said that the positive decision on the transfer of the embassy seems unlikely.

“It seems to have been a ‘thought bubble’ by a new and inexperienced prime minister, probably intended to influence the Wentworth by-election where there are many Jewish voters,” he told PenzaNews.

In his opinion, the statement was also presumably intended to impress US President Donald Trump “since none of other Australia’s close allies seems to be contemplating such an irrational move.”

“This ‘thought bubble’ seems to have only pleased the Jewish lobby in Australia. Most Australians think it is a dumb idea. The Scott Morrison government is hanging by a thread and could well be out of office before anything could be progressed anyway. Such a move also seems to be out of step with departmental advice and former high ranking civil servants’ views. The lack of public support for the Scott Morrison government was demonstrated by the government's loss in the Wentworth by-election,” Clive Williams explained.

Ian Cook from Murdoch University shared the view that this idea arose in an attempt to attract Jewish electorate.

“Raising the possibility of moving the embassy made some sense in the context. The policy hadn’t been raised seriously before Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, raised it during the by-election. And all the Prime Minister said was that he was open to the idea, which is not a strong position on his part. I expect the issue will go away now that the by-election is over,” the analyst suggested.

Meanwhile, this was definitely an idea that had been put into Scott Morrison’s head by the US move, he said.

“The Indonesian government was quick to react to the suggestion and suggest that it would review its relationship with Australia. So the regional backlash amongst Muslim countries was immediate. But other Muslim counties countries would have to review their relationship with Australia if the embassy was moved,” Ian Cook said.

“I really think this issue will fade quickly. There are not enough Jewish voters in other electorates to make this an issue that is worth fighting for in the upcoming federal election,” the expert added.

In turn, Pal Steigan, Norwegian politician, publisher, writer, independent entrepreneur in the field of culture and information technology, called the government statement the result of Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Few other issues are so important and sensitive in the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a hard blow against the Palestinians and in away the end product of the infamous Oslo accord. The world has betrayed the Palestinians and Australia as a US puppet is following suit,” the politician said.

According to him, the decision to move the embassy would function as a provocation.

“Middle Eastern and North African states have protested the proposal from PM Scott Morrison and so has Australia’s neighbour Indonesia. It does not meet the interests of Australia and only pursues the interests of Zionism and US-imperialism,” Pal Steigan noted.

“Being a Norwegian it is important for me to underline that the Oslo accord and the whole ‘Oslo process’ has been a sham and a treason against the Palestinian people. It is a shame for our country and for the world,” he added.

Meanwhile, Independent International Analyst Tinashe Chuchu suggested that Australia’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will enrage Palestine and its allies.

“Those who sympathize Palestine also include some of the members of the Australian parliament who strongly believe in a two-state solution,” the expert explained.

According to him, the voiced position goes against decades of talk about a two-state solution which has always been the US position supported by its Western allies.

“Australia […] could face serious backlash with this position as it was evident of the violence that erupted after US President Donald Trump had suggested that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. However, it should be said that there has been conflict between Palestine and Israel for decades and Australia’s position is not going to either cause significant harm or benefit to the region. It is yet to be seen but America’s position was, is and possibly will continue to remain as the most relevant party involved in this situation between the two nations,” Tinashe Chuchu said.

Meanwhile, Fernand Kartheiser, Luxembourg Parliament member for the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR), noted that the transfer of embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a recognition of a fact that Jerusalem is de facto and de jure the capital of Israel.

“Such a transfer has to be done under certain conditions, as the US has shown, in order not to prejudge discussions on the final status of the eastern part of the city,” the politician said.

Given the importance of the US in the Middle East, as elsewhere, the American influence seems obvious, he added.

“Slowly, a growing number of States envisage such a transfer which, over time, might become normality. The overall importance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to be reevaluated. It is by far not the biggest problem in the contemporary Middle East and the transfer of Embassies to Jerusalem, if operated under certain legal conditions, is not going to change the situation in any notable way. Some international organizations, such as the UN, should reconsider their anti-Israel bias. We witness widespread Human Rights violations by some Arabic Governments or authorities, including most recently the Palestinian authority and the Government of Saudi Arabia,” Fernand Kartheiser added.

In turn, Anton Friesen, Member of the foreign affairs committee and the committee on humanitarian assistance and human rights of the German Parliament, also noted that there were inner political reasons behind this idea.

“Of course, Australia is also a staunch US-ally, so the US decision in fact might be another reason for the deliberations of Australian government. But we will see if Australia is really going to do it, behind its election rhetoric,” the politician said.

At the same time, according to him, the governments of Arab countries may be uttering anti-Israeli-rhetorics, but in are nevertheless cooperating with Israel.

“In my personal view, Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capital. There never will be a common Israeli-Palestinian state, because Israel then would be in danger because of the Palestinian demographics. A two-state-solution seems also out of reach. Instead, the Gaza strip should be given back to Egypt and the West Bank should be – besides Jerusalem – reintegrated into Jordan. These states are rather Israel-friendly and have good neighbourly relations with the state of Israel,” Anton Friesen added.

Meanwhile, Mark Beeson from the University of Western Australia agreed with the opinion that the move of the embassy won’t happen in the near future.

In his opinion, the statement was not related to the decision of the United States, but does not meet the national interests of Australia either.

“It’s interesting that the ‘national interest’ came second to political survival for the Coalition government and its one seat majority in the parliament,” the analyst said.

However, from his point of view, the relocation of the Australian embassy may have negative implications on Australian relations with Arab countries.

“The Indonesians are very unhappy and it will confirm the impression that Australia is pro-US or pro-Israel and unsympathetic, if not hostile, toward Palestine and the Arab world. All this is a bit depressing and counter-productive and not good for domestic or foreign policy,” Mark Beeson concluded.

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