Vastavam web: Australia now recognises west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved. Morrison also committed to recognising a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal.
“Australia now recognises west Jerusalem being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government — is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said in a speech in Sydney on Saturday. “We look forward to moving our embassy to west Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” Morrison said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was under way. In the interim, the prime minister said, Australia would establish a defence and trade office in the west of the holy city.
“Furthermore, recognising our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian government is also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in east Jerusalem,” he added. Morrison first floated a shift in foreign policy in October, which angered Australia’s immediate neighbour Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Canberra on Friday told its citizens travelling to Indonesia to “exercise a high degree of caution”, warning of protests in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and popular holiday hotspots, including Bali.
Morrison said it was in Australia’s interests to support “liberal democracy” in the Middle East, and took aim at the United Nations he said was a place Israel is “bullied”. Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv last May prompted tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters to approach the heavily-protected Israeli border. At least 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire that day. 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 Friday. The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) on Saturday said Morrison’s move “serves no Australian interest”.