Australia Considers Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Australia will consider recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and shifting its embassy there from Tel Aviv, Australia’s Prime Minister said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector that it annexed after the 1967 Middle East war, as its capital.

Last December, US President Donald Trump reversed decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem, enraging the Palestinians and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.

Australia was firm in its refusal to follow suit at the time, however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in parliament he was now open-minded about doing so, while not changing Australia’s policy of support for a Palestinian state.

The whole point of a two-state solution is two nations recognized living side by side, he added, saying he was open to the suggestion from Dave Sharma, Australia’s former ambassador to Israel, that Australia supports West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and East Jerusalem as Palestine’s.

The US Embassy became the only foreign embassy in Jerusalem in May, and Guatemala and Paraguay followed Washington’s lead days later and also moved their embassies, although Paraguay returned its mission to Tel Aviv last month. Israel closed its embassy in Asuncion in response.

The Palestinians, with broad international backing, want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Peace talks between the parties broke down in 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attempted to persuade other countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

Source: Palestine Chronicle