Australia has recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but an embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
On Saturday, Canberra became one of just a few governments around the world to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. Morrison also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Morrison said in a speech on Saturday in Sydney:
The status of Jerusalem is one of the main sticking points in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel regards the whole city, including the eastern sector it unilaterally annexed after the 1967 Middle East war, as its capital while Palestinian officials, with broad international backing, want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Most countries avoided moving embassies to Jerusalem to prevent scuttling peace talks on the city’s final status � until Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy there earlier this year.
In the interim, the prime minister said, Australia would establish a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city.
Morrison also took aim at the United Nations, which he said was a place where Israel is bullied.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously hailed Morrison’s initiative.
The Jerusalem decision could help the embattled Australian PM � who faces the prospect of an election drubbing next year � with Jewish and conservative Christian voters and win him friends in the White House.
The opposition Labor party slammed Morrison for putting self-interest ahead of the national interest.
Shadow minister for foreign affairs Penny Wong said in a statement:
This is a decision which is all risk and no gain, she said, adding it puts Australia out of step with the international community.
Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv last year prompted widespread Palestinian protests.
The Palestinian government will press for Arab and Muslim states to withdraw their ambassadors and take some meat and wheat style economic boycott measures over Canberra’s decision, Palestinian ambassador to Australia Izzat Abdulhadi told AFP on Friday.
Source: Palestine Chronicle