Australia formally recognises West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Australia formally recognises West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Australia formally recognises West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Written by Reuters

15 Dec, 2018 | 4:16 pm

Reuters – Australia formally recognises West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of Middle East policy, but will not move its embassy there immediately, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday (December 15).

The status of Jerusalem, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, is one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians. Israel regards all of the city as its capital, including the eastern sector which it annexed after the 1967 Middle East war, and wants all embassies based there.

U.S. President Donald Trump outraged the Islamic world and stoked international concern by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

Morrison flagged Australia would follow suit in October, an unexpected announcement which was viewed cynically within the Pacific nation since it came days before a crucial by-election in the country’s most Jewish electorate – a poll his party subsequently lost.

It also drew criticism from Muslim-majority neighbours such as Indonesia and Malaysia, neither of whom formally recognise Israel’s right to exist, as well as Arab countries, worried the move could unnecessarily inflame tensions in the Middle East.

The Australian government will not move its embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem until the final status of the city is determined under a peace settlement, but instead will open a trade and defence office.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Australian government support for a two-state solution with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

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