Australia closes diplomatic missions in Palestinian because of cartoon protests

Australia has temporarily closed diplomatic missions in Palestinian territories and warned Australians to be wary if traveling to Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iran because of violent protests over caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

The office in Ramallah has been closed because it shares a building with the Danish mission, which was targeted by protesters because a Danish newspaper was the first to publish the 12 cartoons of Muhammad which are regarded by Muslims as blasphemous, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade updated on Tuesday its advisory for Middle Eastern countries to warn of the protests. But the overall risk levels remained unchanged.

"Today, my department's reissuing it's travel advisories for Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Iran noting that large demonstrations related to this issue have taken place in these countries and advising Australians to avoid any further such protest and to exercise good personal security awareness," Downer told parliament. Downer condemned the violent protests in these nations and in Turkey and Afghanistan, reports the AP.

I.L.