Indonesia FTA still in jeopardy surrounding proposed Israel Embassy move

Indonesia FTA still in jeopardy surrounding proposed Israel Embassy move
Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison (left) and President of Indonesia Joko Widodo (right) by DFAT / Timothy Tobing via Wikimedia Commons

Nearly a month has passed since Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s suggestion to move Australia’s Israel Embassy to Jerusalem prompted a negative response from Indonesia.

Indonesia, being pro-Palestinian in its foreign affairs, expressed concern of what many believed was a knee-jerk decision to win over Israeli voters in the Wentworth by-election. In a recent meeting, Indonesia President Joko Widodo raised the issue with Scott Morrison.

In that meeting it was hoped that the Government would sign the $16 billion dollar trade deal with Indonesia. However, the future of that deal is again in doubt.

After his meeting with President Widodo, Scott Morrison said that the decision on the Israel embassy would be made before Christmas.

Reports from Fairfax media indicate that Australian officials have told Indonesian officials that there’s a “less than 5 percent” chance of the embassy being moved to Jerusalem.

Earlier in the year Scott Morrison, who was still treasurer at the time, said that there was no sense for the Liberal Party to support moving Australia’s embassy to Jerusalem.

However, in the lead-up the Wentworth by-election, which was won by Independent Kerryn Phelps, Scott Morrison shifted his stance an announced Australia could possibly look into moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, tacitly endorsing the ancient, multi-faith city as Israel’s capital.

Wentworth has a high Jewish population and it was suggested by critics that this was the only reason the Prime Minister leant towards this change in foreign policy. Federal Labor was particularly harsh in condemning the Prime Minister for allegedly making reactionary, high-level foreign policy decisions for the sake of winning a by-election and putting Australia’s national interests in jeopardy.