Australia considers moving embassy to Jerusalem



<pAustralia's prime minister said Tuesday that he was open to shifting the AustraliaDonald Trump‘s decision to recognize the contested holy city as Israel<pIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had recently spoken to Morrison and welcomed the Australian policy shift.

<pMorrison "informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem. I'm very thankful to him for this," Netanyahu tweeted. "We will continue to strengthen ties" between Israel and Australia.

<pMorrison also announced that Australia would vote against a United Nations resolution this week to recognize the Palestinian Authority as the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and would review the three-year-old Iran nuclear deal.

<pThe opposition center-left Labor Party said the announcement was a desperate attempt to win the by-election in the Wentworth electorate.

<pWhen the government forced former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from office in August, he quit Parliament. If Sharma is not elected as the new lawmaker for Wentworth, the government will lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

<p"Foreign policy, and Australia's national interest are far too important to be played with in this fashion," Labor lawmaker Penny Wong said.

<p"The people of Wentworth, and all Australians, deserve a leader who puts the national interest ahead of his self-interest, and governs in the best long-term interest of the nation," she added.

<pThe Trump administration turned its back on decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv in May.

<pGeorge Browning, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, accused the government of "aligning itself with the most erratic, reactionary and bullish U.S. foreign policy ever."

<p"This is an irresponsible policy that compromises the future of millions of people in the Middle East for a handful of votes in Wentworth," Browning said in a statement.

<pMorrison denied that the United States or the by-election had influenced his announcement.

<p"I have made this decision without any reference to the United States. It has not come up in any discussion I have had with the president or with officials," Morrison said.

<p"There has been no request, and there has been no discussion with the United States. Australia makes its decisions about its foreign policy independently. We do so in our own national interests consistent with our own beliefs and our own values," he added.