Home » Australia reverses decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Australia reverses decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israeli capital

by Mahmmod Shar

By Tiffanie Turnbull

Australia has reversed a decision made four years ago to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Canberra’s decision in 2018 had undermined peace and put Australia out of step with other nations, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

She stressed that Australia remained a “steadfast friend” to Israel. Its embassy will stay in Tel Aviv.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid said: “In light of the way in which this decision was made in Australia, as a hasty response to an incorrect report in the media, we can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally.

“Jerusalem is the eternal and united capital of Israel and nothing will ever change that.”

Former US President Donald Trump drew international criticism in 2017 when he reversed decades of American foreign policy by recognising the ancient city as Israel’s capital. The US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018.

Months later, Australia’s then Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his government would follow suit.

At the time, Mr Morrison said Australia would recognise West Jerusalem immediately but not move its embassy from Tel Aviv until a peace settlement was achieved.

In a vote held in May of this year, Mr. Morrison’s administration was defeated.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong described the former administration’s action on Tuesday as a “cynical play” to win over Jewish voters ahead of an Australian election.

She said, “I regret that Mr. Morrison’s choice to play politics led to Australia’s shifting position, and the distress these shifts have caused to many Australians who deeply care about this issue.”

She reiterated the nation’s “previous and longstanding” stance that the status of Jerusalem should be settled as part of talks for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Currently, the UK is thinking about moving its embassy to Jerusalem. The only nations with embassies in the city besides the US are Honduras, Guatemala, and Kosovo.

While the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied during the Middle East War of 1967, as the capital of a future state, Israel views Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is centered on the status of Jerusalem.

Internationally, Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized, and the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords stipulate that the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed during the final stages of peace negotiations.

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