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Australia's spy agency warned ministers against Jerusalem embassy move

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The warning came in light of the Prime Minister's announcement about a shift in his Middle East policy, and his decision to relocate Australia's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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In an appeal to Australian ministers on Wednesday, Australia's spy agency warned that Prime Minister Morrison's proposal to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may "“provoke protest, unrest and possibly some violence in Gaza and the West Bank," according to Guardian Australia.

The warning came in light of Prime Minister John Morrison's announcement the day before about a shift in his Middle East policy, and his decision to relocate Australia's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Morrison also said that he is considering withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.The newspaper Guardian Australia obtained an Australian secret bulletin, Asio, marked secret, AUSTEO (Australian eyes only),which was passed around to government ministers on October 15th, the day before Morrison announced his decision. The bulletin stresses that Morrison's shift in Middle East policy would "attract international attention."

"We expect any announcement on the possible relocation of the Australian embassy to Jerusalem or consideration of voting against Palestinians in the United Nations may provoke protest, unrest and possibly some violence in Gaza and the West Bank,” the bulletin says. It added that Australian facilities may be endangered by any public announcement by the government, and “attacks and violent protests” have occurred in the past when political tensions were high.

Asio also noted that Australian interests in Iran may be targeted as well if the Australian government withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

The bulletin noted that internal protests within Australia are also possible, although it is unlikely that those protests would be violent. Asio wrote that although they are unaware of any threats to Jewish interests in Australia, Israeli and Jewish facilities remain “an enduring target of extremists globally."

“While a small number of Australian-based individuals maintain a violent Islamist extremist ideology that includes a strong antisemitic element, we are not aware of any specific or credible terrorist threat to Israel or Jewish interests in Australia.”

Asio was not the only negative reaction to Morrison's decision. Representatives from 13 Middle Eastern and north African embassies in Australia condemned the idea, saying it was a "fatal mistake" and is likely to cause a breakdown in economic relations with Arab and Muslim countries.
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