Prime Minister Scott Morrison was slammed for his Israel embassy announcement. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was slammed for his Israel embassy announcement. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Why PM must stand firm on Israel

Scott Morrison may have made a mistake on a second-order issue by saying he could move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

But Labor is sure making a bigger one by telling the Prime Minister to listen to our Muslim neighbours and back off.

And Labor's mistake is far worse than Morrison's.

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Scrapping the suggested move now would make Australia look weak and unprincipled. It would make us seem to kowtow to Islamic terrorists, and to notorious anti-Semites like Malaysia's Prime Minister.

It would be shameful. Dangerous. Verging on treasonous.

Even if you don't care two cents whether our embassy in Israel is in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, surely you - and Labor - must care about Australia's power and reputation.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was slammed for his announcement. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was slammed for his announcement. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Yes, as I said at the time, Morrison made a mistake in the last week of campaigning for the by-election in Wentworth, where 12.5 per cent of voters are Jews.

Desperate, he suddenly announced he was thinking of moving our embassy to Jerusalem, Israel's capital, rather than keep it in Tel Aviv as Muslim nations demand.

Morrison deserved all the criticism he's had. His move seemed deeply cynical vote-buying, and how does this help Australian voters? Does shifting the embassy in Israel put food on their table?

Indeed, critics, such as former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, were right to complain that this could instead cost us trade with Muslim countries like Indonesia that hate Israel so much that they refuse to recognise it exists.

So it's happened. Indonesia is now punishing Australia by delaying the signing of a free- trade deal.

Other counter-arguments are rubbish, of course. No, moving our embassy to West Jerusalem will not destroy the "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians because there's no process to destroy.

Just a week ago, the Hamas terrorists ruling the Gaza Strip fired more than 450 rockets and missiles at Israel. Besides, West Jerusalem will stay with Israel under every peace plan proposed.

But even if you think Morrison was a dill to suggest moving our embassy, it's now done and we must deal with it in a way that doesn't turn a misstep into a disaster.

We must start with this: that even if Morrison suggested moving our embassy for the wrong reasons, the moral case is powerful.

That's why so many Liberal MPs are publicly arguing for it - Andrew Hastie, Tim Wilson, James Paterson, Amanda Stoker, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly and more.

As deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg passionately outlined on my show last week, Jerusalem is Israel's capital and home of its parliament. What other country do we insult by refusing to place our embassy in its capital?

And what good does that snub do? It just helps the militant Muslim lobby to marginalise our strongest ally and the truest democracy in the Middle East.

But the most compelling argument to now back Morrison is that Australia will be disgraced if it now gives in to the foreign critics.

Backing down now would be a contemptible surrender to foreign meddling, showing Indonesia it has the right and power to tell us where to place our own embassies in countries that are our allies.

Backing down now would tell everyone - including the Chinese tyranny - that we'd sell even our right to place our embassies in friendly countries for the sake of some trade.

Backing down now would show we're much weaker than Indonesia in defending our friends and our principles.

Backing down now would show that Indonesia would junk a trade deal with us just to spit on Israel, but Australia would rather grab that deal than show Israel respect.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Wallace Woon
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Wallace Woon

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Backing down now would tell Islamist terrorists their violence works - that we'll cave when Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warns that moving our Israel embassy is "adding to the cause for terrorism".

Backing down now would show the world we're so unprincipled that we'd kowtow to Mahathir, a bigot who says he's "glad to be labelled anti-Semitic", and who claims "hook-nosed" Jews "rule this world by proxy", "understand money instinctively", cause terrorism, exaggerate the Holocaust and want to "wipe out" Muslims.

How weak we'd seem. How craven. How ready to sell out our friends for cash. How easily persuaded by Jew-haters and tamed by terrorists.

This cannot happen. Criticise Morrison all you like for getting us in this fight, but now we're in it, we must unite to win it.

Labor, too. Or does cheap politics now trump the national interest?



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