In Brief

Australia ‘considering’ moving embassy to Jerusalem

Prime minister accused of ‘deceitful, dangerous games’ ahead of crucial by-election

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has revealed that his government is considering following America’s lead to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and shift the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv.

Morrison confirmed that Australia remains committed to a two-state solution, “but frankly, it hasn’t been going that well”, he said, adding: “Not a lot of progress has been made. And you don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

The Guardian says that any such move “would go against broad international consensus, which has been that the holy city’s status should be settled in a peace deal”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that he had spoken to Morrison about the idea, using Twitter to say he was “very thankful” to the Australian prime minister for the proposal.

The timing of the announcement by Morrison has been questioned by political opponents, coming just days before a crucial by-election in the federal electorate of Wentworth, which was vacated by ousted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The electorate has a relatively high Jewish population, and the government’s candidate for the seat, former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma, was credited by Morrison as the person who persuaded him to consider the policy shift, Bloomberg says.

If the government fails to win this weekend’s by-election, it will lose its single-seat majority in the lower house, forcing Morrison’s coalition into a minority government.

Morrison has since denied that his comments on the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had any link to the upcoming by-election, however opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong accused the prime minister of playing “dangerous and deceitful word games with Australian foreign policy”.

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