Australian PM Tells Netanyahu: We May Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital and Move Embassy

Australia would be the second major country, after the United States, to make such a move

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses media at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, August 24, 2018.
Lukas Coch,AP

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and transferring the embassy there.

Australia would be the second major country, after the United States, to make such a move.

Morrison cited Australia's former ambassador to Israel, businessman Dave Sharma, as a major influence in the shift in policy, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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Morrison, a devout evangelist and leader of the Liberal Party, took office in August. Elections are slated to be held this weekend in a tight race that could rob Morrison of a majority in parliament. Sharma is the Liberal candidate in Wentworth, a district where voters – 13 percent of whom are Jewish – may end up determinig whether the Liberals maintain the seat.

"I am open to further pursuing (moving the embassy) and doing that together with Cabinet colleagues," the Daily Telegraph quoted Morrison as saying. "I am saying I’m open to considering it."

Despite the controversial move, Morrison appeared to voice his commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is all in the context of me continuing our support for the two-step [sic] solution policy in the Middle East,” Morrison added.

Morrison further told The Daily Telegraph he would also review Australia's involvement in the Iran nuclear deal and said Australia would vote on Tuesday against allowing the Palestinian Authority to chair a United Nations group G77.

Trump abruptly reversed decades of U.S. policy in December when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington’s Western allies. Following the recognition, the U.S. embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

Paraguay officially moved its country’s embassy to Jerusalem on May 21, becoming the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the United States and Guatemala.