Australia ‘unlikely’ to move Israel embassy after talks with Indonesia

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Indonesian ministers have been informed by the Australian government that the likelihood of a divisive new policy on Israel going ahead is “less than 5 per cent.”

In a bid to seal a $16.5 billion free trade agreement, Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has been told there is little chance that Australia will move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s consideration to mirror Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy earlier this year.

The idea prompted outrage from Muslim countries.

The private discourse suggests that Mr Morrison might reinstate the government’s former stance on Israel after the policy received backlash, described by some as a “captain’s call” that has damaged the Coalition.

Others within the government have insisted that the statements hold little gravitas and that Mr Morrison will ignore protests from Jakarta and move the embassy if it’s in Australia’s national interest.

The dispute over Mr Morrison’s decision has exporters worried as talks delay a new trade deal with Indonesia, whose business with Australia is worth $16.5 billion a year.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo reiterated the argument against the embassy move during talks with Mr Morrison in Singapore on Wednesday.

Mr Morrison left the meeting insisting that the embassy move was not included in his conversation with Mr Joko, despite the Indonesian government later issuing a statement that emphasising a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

Mr Lukita said that the timing of finalising the agreement was now linked to the decision on Israel.

“It can be signed anytime, but when you will sign it … depends on Australia’s position” he told reporters at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

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Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi enforced that “if Australia insists on moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the signing will be delayed,” Mr Lukita reportedly added.

Mr Morrison hopes to have the review on the policy finished by Christmas.

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