Australia reverses decision to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Credit: RM / Shutterstock.com

Australia has reversed a decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the 2018 move by the previous government had undermined peace and “put Australia out of step with the majority of the international community.”

In 2018 Australia’s then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his government would follow the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Mr Morrison’s government lost power in an election in May this year.

Penny Wong said: “Today the Government has reaffirmed Australia’s previous and longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people.

“This reverses the Morrison Government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Australia’s embassy has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv.

Penny Wong. Pic: Australian government

“Australia is committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders. We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.

“The Albanese Government recommits Australia to international efforts in the responsible pursuit of progress towards a just and enduring two-state solution.

“Australia will always be a steadfast friend of Israel. We were among the first countries to formally recognise Israel under Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley. This Government will not waver in its support of Israel and the Jewish community in Australia.

“We are equally unwavering supporters of the Palestinian people, providing humanitarian support every year since 1951 and advocating for resumed peace negotiations.

“I regret that Mr Morrison’s decision to play politics resulted in Australia’s shifting position, and the distress these shifts have caused to many people in the Australian community who care deeply about this issue.”

Israel’s government called the U-turn short-sighted and deeply disappointing, and summoned the Australian ambassador.

“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,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.

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

But Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh welcomed the “wise and bold decision,” which he said expressed “Australia’s respect and alignment with the values of truth, justice and freedom, and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, sanctioned by international legitimacy”.

Honduras, Guatemala and Kosovo are the only countries other than the US with embassies in the city.

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