Australia’s ex-PM warns Jerusalem move would worry Indonesia

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during the fifth Our Ocean Conference in Nusadua, Indonesia's resort island of Bali, on October 29, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 30 October 2018
0

Australia’s ex-PM warns Jerusalem move would worry Indonesia

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday no decision had been made yet on the embassy’s location
  • Turnbull also said Australia should stick with a policy of more than 40 years that its embassy should be in Tel Aviv

CANBERRA, Australia: A former Australian prime minister has warned the government to expect a negative reaction from Indonesia if Australia follows the United States by shifting its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke to reporters after meeting Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on the tourist island of Bali on Monday to discuss a bilateral free trade deal.
“The president expressed to me ... the very serious concern held in Indonesia about the prospect of the Australian Embassy in Israel being moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview aired on Tuesday. “There’s no question that were that move to occur, it would be met with a very negative reaction in Indonesia.”
“This is after all the largest ... majority-Muslim country in the world, so we have to be very clear-eyed about that and we have to take into account Australia’s national interest and our interests in the region when we ... consider decisions like this,” he added.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday no decision had been made yet on the embassy’s location.
Morrison sent his predecessor to represent Australia at a climate change conference in Bali because of Turnbull’s close personal rapport with the Indonesian leader, who had been disappointed that Turnbull’s government colleagues replaced him in August in response to poor opinion polling.
Turnbull said he was confident that the free trade deal between Australia, a nation of 25 million people, and Indonesia, a near-neighbor with a population of more than 260 million people, would be signed within weeks.
Turnbull also said Australia should stick with a policy of more than 40 years that its embassy should be in Tel Aviv.
Morrison, a long-time ally of Turnbull who had argued against replacing him in a leadership ballot of government lawmakers, floated the idea of shifting the embassy days before a by-election in a Sydney electorate with a large Jewish population.
The government lost the by-election, forced by Turnbull’s resignation from Parliament, and its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.
“Australia will always make our decisions on our foreign policy based on our interests and we’ll do that as a sovereign nation,” Morrison told reporters.
We’ll consult, we’ll listen to others, but at the end of the day ... I will always put our interests first,” he added.
The Trump administration turned its back on decades of US policy last December by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and in May, it moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv. The decision angered the Muslim world and was a setback for Palestinian aspirations for statehood. Palestinians see east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as the capital of a future independent state.
Morrison said Australia remained committed to finding a two-state solution.
When Morrison became prime minister, he made his first overseas trip to Indonesia, an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause, in a sign of the importance Australia places on the bilateral relationship.


South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

Updated 15 November 2018
0

South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

  • The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest
  • The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea

JUBA: South Sudan is planning to construct a new state capital in a central location in what was a wildlife park, a move that officials say will make the seat of government more accessible to the people, the government said on Wednesday.
“We’re not supposed to have our capital near the borders. The capital is the center of everything and it needs to be easy for everyone to come,” government spokesman Michael Makuei told The Associated Press.
The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest. The land is currently uninhabited and lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity.
The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea. Morrocan and Korean engineers will visit the site this week to begin demarcating areas for roads, utilities, markets, residential areas and key government installations.
Plans to move the capital from Juba, where it is now, to the new city have been in the works since before South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, said the government. Morocco’s decision to contribute to the project was discussed during King Mohammed VI’s trip to the war-torn nation in February, 2017.
The executive branch will move to Ramciel, while Juba will remain South Sudan’s commercial center as well as either the judicial or legislative hub, he said.
Five years of civil war have devastated South Sudan, killing almost 400,000 people and displacing millions. The power sharing agreement signed by warring parties in September is the latest attempt at peace, although implementation of the accord has been fraught with delays and there has been continued fighting in parts of the country.
At least one South Sudan analyst says the move to the new capital should not be a priority.
“Roads, health, education, economy and a stabilization agenda should top the list,” Augustino Ting Mayai, a researcher at the Sudd Institute in Juba.