Australian government discusses moving Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 December 2018

Australian government discusses moving Israel embassy to Jerusalem

  • Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country
  • The Australian newspaper said a decision could be announced this week

SYDNEY: Australia's government met on Tuesday to discuss whether to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, two sources familiar with the matter said, a decision that would break with decades of policy and risk angering Asian neighbours.
"Cabinet met today and the issue of moving the Israeli embassy was discussed. The decision is still pending," said one of the sources who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Prime Minster Scott Morrison in October said he was "open" to moving the embassy to Jerusalem, following the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump.
The United States opened a new embassy in Jerusalem in May, a move that delighted Israel, infuriated Palestinians and upset the wider Arab world and Western allies.
The Australian newspaper reported several senior cabinet members were leaning towards recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital while stopping short of moving the embassy.
Jerusalem's status is a major obstacle to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector that it annexed after a 1967 war, as its capital.
The Australian newspaper said a decision could be announced this week.
By recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Morrison would be hoping to keep his conservative backbench happy but it would likely anger neighbours, including Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.
The Palestinian question is sensitive in Indonesia and it has refused to sign a free trade agreement with Australia until it confirms its plans towards Israel.
Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country. Palestinians feel equally strongly, saying that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.


Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

Updated 30 min 41 sec ago

Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

  • The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran
  • Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday

DUBAI: Gulf countries announced new measures on Tuesday to cut links with Iran to prevent coronavirus spreading after the confirmation of 20 new cases, all of them people returning from the Islamic republic.

The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran after Kuwait and Bahrain announced the additional cases of COVID-19.

Over the past two days, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have reported 29 cases of the novel coronavirus among people returning from pilgrimages to Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak outside China and where the death toll has reached 16.

Bahrain also announced 15 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number affected in the kingdom to 23 — including six Saudi women — after some of the people had returned from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority “suspended all passenger flights and cargo to and from Iran starting today and for one week,” a statement carried by the official WAM news agency said, adding that the ban could be extended.

Also on Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed tweeted that the UAE was ready to provide all forms of support to help China combat the spread of the virus.

Shortly after, the Bahraini authorities said citizens were banned from traveling to Iran “until further notice.”

In neighboring Kuwait, three new cases were recorded among Kuwaiti men who had been under quarantine after returning from Iran.

Oman, which on Monday reported its first cases of coronavirus in two Omani women who had returned from Iran, reported an additional two cases.

Muscat was making arrangements to bring back its citizens from the Islamic republic, the foreign ministry said, a day after it suspended all flights to and from Iran.

Oman also announced that it will suspend the import and export of goods from Iran from Wednesday.

The three countries have large Shiite Muslim populations who frequently travel to Iran to visit holy shrines.

The UAE has already announced 13 coronavirus cases, all foreigners, including an Iranian couple who had traveled from Iran.

Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday and also scrapped all sports events to counter the spread of the disease.