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    Likud Foreign Affairs Director on Australian Embassy Relocation: It's Logical

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    Australia is contemplating relocating its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told reporters that he has discussed the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Radio Sputnik has discussed Australia's intentions with Eli Hazan, foreign affairs director for the Israeli party Likud.

    Sputnik: What is your reaction to the Australian Prime Minister's intention?

    Eli Hazan: Of course, we are quite satisfied and very happy with this decision. Hopefully, they will apply it as soon as possible; and we call to other countries to join the Australians. After the Americans and Guatemala, more countries should do it because we see Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and we say thank you in general.

    READ MORE: Aussie PM Criticized After Saying Canberra 'Open' to Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

    Sputnik: How likely do you think it is that Morrison will actually go through with the embassy relocation? How much support does he have for that move within his own country?

    Eli Hazan: It's disputed in Australia, we know that. But don't forget that he created some kind of a new direction; and if he has a lot of power, and we know how logical it is to move the embassy, I hope he will get a lot of power in order to do it. We are looking forward to that. Don't forget one more thing which is extremely important is that there have been a lot of prime ministers in Australia in the last years. They change or replace their prime ministers all the time, so it means a lot about the future. As soon as the current prime minister decides to move the embassy, the question is what will be after that; whether the other parties and other MPs will accept it. We hope so. We're trying to convince all the nations and all the MPs around the world about the need to do it. And, as I told you, we're quite satisfied with the decision of the Australian prime minister.

    Sputnik: Actually, his predecessor had a very different point of view in regards to moving the embassy; what would this mean for Israeli-Australian relations?

    Eli Hazan: First of all, the relationship between Israel and Australia is extremely good. We have a lot of cooperation. We have good connections between the two countries almost in every field, if I have to mention that. Moreover, only one year ago and maybe even less; the previous Australian prime minister paid a visit to Israel to commemorate 100 years since the battle of Beersheba when Australian soldiers occupied the city of Beersheba during WWI. Besides that, if you look at economic issues, cultural issues, science issues we have a tight cooperation with Australia. I guess that this kind of move of moving the embassy to Jerusalem will strengthen the relationship more.

    READ MORE: Just No, Mate: Australia Refuses Pressure to Move Israel Embassy to Jerusalem

    Sputnik: And it will have a completely different effect on Australia's ties with Arab nations, according to many experts; what's your take on this? For example, Egypt's ambassador to Australia said that that would hurt the ties that Australia has with Arab nations; what's your take on this?

    Eli Hazan: It depends. Because look at the Americans, they have less good relations with the Arab States, not necessarily. Look at the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia; look at the relationship between the United States and Jordan, nothing really changed. In some ways it became more tightened. We don't know, but if the Australians are strong enough and the Arab States need them, nothing is going to change. Moreover, don't forget one more thing, before the Americans moved the embassy last May there had been a lot of predictions about the situation and the outcome of this move; and I don't see any real difference.

    Sputnik: Now Trump, last year, his announcement did spark outrage and violence on the Israeli-Palestinian border; how likely do you think this decision will also see some kind of controversy and, perhaps, even a conflict?

    Eli Hazan: Let me, first of all, make something clear. It's not necessarily that the outrage has come because of moving the embassy. You have to remember that if we go back through history, all along the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there is a wave of hostility; it doesn't matter what is the cause, but it repeats itself all the time. I don't believe that the decision of Trump to move the embassy was the real cause for the demonstrations in Gaza. It's more than that. There's a lot of pressure against Hamas from the Gazan people. And therefore they have encouraged people to go against Israel in order to distort their failures. Regarding Australia, I don't think so because it is a long process that in the end, I belive a lot of countries will move their embassies. Moreover, I want to remind you one more thing, Russia was the first country to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and this did not really affect the relationship of Russia with other Arab countries.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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