Australia reverses recognition of ‘capital’ West Jerusalem

(Photo: Envato Elements)

SYDNEY, Australia — Australia said it would no longer recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Tuesday, a policy reversal that prompted a curt rebuke from Israel but was cheered by Palestinians.اضافة اعلان

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the city’s status should be decided by Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, unwinding a contentious decision by the previous conservative government.

In 2018, Australia’s then-prime minister Scott Morrison followed US president Donald Trump’s lead in unilaterally recognizing West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The move caused a domestic backlash in Australia and friction with neighboring Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation — temporarily derailing a bilateral free trade deal.

“I know this has caused conflict and distress in part of the Australian community, and today the government seeks to resolve that,” Wong said.

Jerusalem is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians, but most governments avoid putting embassies there to avoid prejudging the outcome of negotiations for a lasting peace.

“We will not support an approach that undermines” a two-state solution, Wong said, adding: “Australia’s embassy has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv”.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid criticized Tuesday’s move — which comes as he prepares to face a November 1 general election.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and has declared the entire city its “eternal and indivisible capital”.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs minister, Hussein Al-Sheikh welcomed the move by Canberra as an “affirmation” that Jerusalem’s status depends on the outcome of negotiations.

Indonesia also welcomed the decision.

“This policy would hopefully contribute positively to Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations,” the foreign ministry in Jakarta said.

Wong insisted that the decision — which has limited practical impact — did not signal any broader shift in policy or hostility toward Israel.

“Australia will always be a steadfast friend of Israel. We were amongst the first countries to formally recognize Israel,” she said.

“We will not waver in our support of Israel and the Jewish community in Australia. We are equally unwavering in our support of the Palestinian people, including humanitarian support.”

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