Ousted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has issued a warning to his successor that moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem could prompt a “very negative reaction”.
Speaking after a meeting in Bali with Indonesia President Joko Widodo, Mr Turnbull said Australia shouldn’t toy with the idea of moving the embassy, given the reaction it would stir from it’s Muslim majority northern neighbour.
“The president expressed to me, as he has done to Prime Minister Morrison, the very serious concern held in Indonesia about the prospect of the Australian embassy in Israel being moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Mr Turnbull said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison floated the idea of shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the dying days of the Wentworth by-election campaign, where more than 12 per cent of voters are Jewish.
Mr Turnbull said Australia must first look at how its closest neighbours would react to such a dramatic foreign policy change.
“There is no question, were that move to occur, it would be met with a very negative reaction in Indonesia. This is after all the largest Muslim-majority country in the world,” he said.
“We have to be very clear-eyed about that, and we have to take into account Australia’s national interests, and our interests in the region, when we consider a decision like this.”
He said the Indonesian President had expressed “serious concern” over the plan.