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Indonesia warns Australia against repercussions of anticipated Israel embassy move

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Indonesia has warned Australia against moving its diplomatic mission to Jerusalem al-Quds after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested a possible embassy transfer earlier this week.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir underlined the sensitivity of Australia’s decision, saying “the issue of Palestine is very important to Indonesia and the people of Indonesia.”

“Of course we will adjust our policy or our actions depending on the situation but again, I will not even try to predict what actions we will take,” he said in a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Indonesian Defense Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Totok Sugiharto also warned of a possible revision in military cooperation to see whether its continuation “is beneficial for both parties.”

Australia had previously ruled out any prospect of an embassy transfer in June, but Morrison’s recent bid to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” may mark a change in Australia’s foreign policy that is similar to that of Trump’s, according to observers.

The prime minister has also called for a review of the Iran nuclear deal.

Some domestic critics have responded to the decision by describing it as a mere scheme to gain votes in an upcoming by-election for the Australian House of Representatives seat of Wentworth, which is home to a sizable Jewish population.

Former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath condemned the move as an obstacle to achieving peace in the region, saying Palestinian officials have been lobbying Arab countries to review their trade and political ties with Canberra.

“If this is the way you do politics in the Middle East in order to win a by-election in Australia, then please allow me to be very negative towards the policy of that Australian government, …we’ll do our best that it will cause damage to Australia’s relations with the Arab world,” added Shaath.

Representatives from 13 Middle Eastern and North African embassies held an emergency meeting on the issue on Tuesday, warning Australian authorities to not make a “fatal mistake”.

Morrison, however, brushed aside foreign criticism on Friday, arguing that Australian voters want the country to have “its own voice” on foreign policy and truly care about whether the embassy in Israel is located in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem al-Quds.

“If you are telling me that I’m not allowed to raise a question about an issue as significant as peace in the Middle East … then that doesn’t make us an independent nation.”

The anticipated embassy move attracted further scrutiny recently after media reports published a leaked Australia Spy Agency bulletin claiming that Morrison’s announcement would “attract international attention” and could cause potentially violent protests.

US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel last December and moved the American embassy to the ancient city in May.

The contentious move sparked angry reactions from Palestinians and drew large-scale criticism from the international community.

Israel lays claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as occupied territory and Palestinians consider it as the capital of their future state.

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