Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during 'Question Time' in parliament. Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

On a call today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he's considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the Australian Embassy there, Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Why it matters: If Australia does move its embassy, it will be the first Western country to follow President Trump's lead. Guatemala and Paraguay moved their embassies to Jerusalem, but last month the new government in Paraguay backtracked and decided to move the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Background: According to the Australian press, this move by Morrison is about domestic politics as much as foreign policy. He's attempting to win Jewish votes in an upcoming election for a seat in the lower house of Parliament. The Liberal party needs to win the seat in order to maintain its majority. The candidate for the seat from Morrison's Liberal Party is Dave Sharma — the former Australian ambassador to Israel.

  • According to press reports in Australia, Morrison had different thoughts on the issue just a few months ago. In June, when he was still just a minister in the government, he said that moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem made no sense.

What to watch: According to Australia's ABC, Morrison will give a foreign policy statement later today addressing the Jerusalem issue but stressing that Australia is not changing its position on supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

  • A former Australian official briefed on the matter said the Australian government is not going to move the embassy to Jerusalem at this time, but issue a statement about a Middle East policy review which will include "an inquiry to look at the Jerusalem issue and other issues like support for two-state solution and the Iran nuclear deal."

Go deeper

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Where bringing students back to school is most risky

Data: Coders Against COVID; Note: Rhode Island and Puerto Rico did not meet minimum testing thresholds for analysis. Values may not add to 100% due to rounding; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Schools in Southern and Midwestern states are most at risk of coronavirus transmission, according to an analysis by Coders Against COVID that uses risk indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Thankfully, schools have not yet become coronavirus hotspots, the Washington Post reported this week, and rates of infection are lower than in the surrounding communities. But that doesn't mean schools are in the clear, especially heading into winter.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!