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Australia, Malaysia in war of words over Israel embassy shift

Australia’s treasurer on Friday said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had a history of anti-Jewish statements in an escalating war of words over the possibility Australia might move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison first proposed the move during a local election campaign last month, sparking concern from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Mahathir, 93, raised the potential relocation in a meeting with Morrison in Singapore on Thursday, later telling reporters he feared it could increase the threat of attacks.

“I pointed out that in dealing with terrorism, one has to know the causes,” Mahathir said. “Adding to the cause for terrorism is not going to be helpful.”

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg responded saying Canberra would make its own decisions, and pointing out the Malaysian leader’s past comments about Jewish people.

“He has called Jews ‘hooked-nosed people’. He has questioned the number of people that have been killed in the Holocaust. He banned Schindler’s List as a movie being shown,” Frydenberg, the son of a Holocaust survivor, told reporters in Melbourne.

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