Turnbull slams idea to move Israel embassy

Floating the idea of moving Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was "a really dumb thing" for the Morrison government to do, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says.

The suggestion was made on the eve of the by-election in Wentworth, held to replace Mr Turnbull after he was dumped as Liberal leader and quit parliament.

Ultimately, the government decided not to move the embassy.

"Whatever your views on the merits of that, I thought the timing was just calculated to win support ... It showed a patronising insensitivity to the Jewish community," Mr Turnbull told the Australian Jewish News on Thursday.

"We all do dumb things in our lives, so do governments and politicians."

Liberal senator Eric Abetz, who is no fan of the former prime minister, was quick to return fire.

"Malcolm Turnbull is the master of doing dumb things in politics," he told Sky News.

The Liberals lost the seat at the October by-election but the party's candidate, Dave Sharma, defeated independent MP Kerryn Phelps at the May 18 general election.

Mr Turnbull says had it not been for the embassy idea, he believes Mr Sharma would have won the seat seven months earlier.


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