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Australia eyeing possible embassy move to Jerusalem

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Australia eyeing possible embassy move to Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks Monday at the opening session of the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu said he supports a possible move of Australia's Embassy to Jerusalem. Photo by Debbie Hill /UPI | License Photo

Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Australia could follow the United States by relocating its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, a move sure to spark more Palestinian anger but might also help Prime Minister Scott Morrison keep power in parliament.

At a news conference Tuesday, Morrison proposed moving the embassy despite Palestinian intentions to establish the eastern half of the city as the future capital of a Palestinian state. Israelis recognize all of the city as its capital.

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President Donald Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in May after decades in Tel Aviv. A potential move by Australia would follow the United States and a few other nations making the same change.

"We're committed to a two-state solution, but frankly it hasn't been going that well, not a lot of progress has been made, and you don't keep doing the same thing an expect different results," Morrison said.

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Ambassadors from 13 Arab countries met in the Australian capital, Canberra, on Tuesday to oppose the potential move.

The proposal came ahead of this weekend's election in Australia where Morrison may lose his one-seat majority in parliament.

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Morrison credited election candidate Dave Sharma, a Liberal from Wentworth, for influencing his thinking on Middle East policy. Wentworth has a significant Jewish population who will likely support a move.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem.

"I'm very thankful to him for this," he said.

Morrison also announced that Australia will vote against a United Nations resolution that would recognize the Palestinian Authority as the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries.

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In another sign that Morrison is siding with Trump, officials said Australia will review its support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Trump pulled the United States from the Obama-era deal earlier this year with the intention of negotiating a new deal to limit Tehran's nuclear activity.

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