Australian Treasurer slams Mahathir for remarks on Israel embassy

Blanche Robertson
November 18, 2018

Prime minister Mahathir this week warned that Australia moving its embassy in Israel could encourage terrorism.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who met Mahathir during regional meetings in Singapore this week, defended Frydenberg on Friday.

The Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg responded on Friday, taking aim at anti-Semitic sentiment from Mahathir, "The Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir has form".

Deputy leader of Australia's Liberal Party Frydenburg called out Dr Mahathir over the rebuke, saying it was likely driven by the latter's heavily-documented bias against Zionists and Israeli Jews, British news outlet The Guardian reported. "He has questioned the number of people that have been killed in the holocaust". "It will be the capital of Israel under any two-state solution", he said.

"I pointed out that in dealing with terrorism, one has to know the causes", Dr Mahathir told reporters.

"Australian ministers need to be wary of the ramifications of causing tensions with its near neighbors, some of which are concerned the nation is becoming too closely aligned to the USA on some of these geopolitical issues", Hughes said.

His views have also influenced the larger Malaysian population courtesy of his over two decades of power previously, with anti-Semitism both common - despite a near absence of Israelis here - and socially acceptable in the country.

Politicians in Indonesia have also voiced concerns about the possible embassy move.

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But on Friday, Frydenberg insisted shifting the embassy made sense, although it has also inflamed tensions with Australia's closest neighbor, Muslim-majority Indonesia.

Mohamad said he discussed with Morrison Australia's intention to transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The seat was lost anyway, leaving the government ruling with the cooperation of independent lawmakers.

He said it was untenable to lend credence to the Malaysian PM's remarks about Australia's embassy move without giving these the full context of his long history of anti-semitism.

"I think what Josh said today was filling in the history of his (Mahathir's) record on various issues over time", Morrison told reporters on a visit to Darwin, where he is due to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"Make no mistake. I will not have our policy dictated by those outside the country", Morrison added.

Australia and Malaysia have had a sometimes rocky diplomatic relationship. In 1993, after he refused to attend an APEC meeting hosted by the USA, then-Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating labeled him a recalcitrant.

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