Saturday, December 9, 2023

Australia reverses stand on Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced Tuesday that the Albanese government would officially reverse a past decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that was made during the Morrison administration.

Wong told reporters at a morning conference that former Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a “cynical play” that “put Australia out of step with the international community,” underscoring that Jerusalem is a “final status issue” that should be negotiated between Palestinian and Israeli officials.

“Australia is committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist, in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders,” reads a release issued by Wong’s office. “We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.”

“I regret that Mr. Morrison’s decision to play politics resulted in Australia’s shifting position, and the distress these shifts have caused to many people in the Australian community who care deeply about this issue.”

Wong’s announcement and clarification on the matter came shortly after reports surfaced earlier Monday that Australia had been dropping its recognition of Jerusalem in language used on government-operated websites.

The former prime minister announced the shift in Australia’s recognition in 2018 but indicated that the nation’s embassy would not be relocating from Tel Aviv. It was later determined that the Australian embassy would not be moved until Jerusalem’s status was finalized under a peace settlement.

Morrison’s own announcement followed the 2017 declaration by US President Donald Trump, who had in fact directed the US State Department to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their rightful capital. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War, with officials later adopting legislation in 1980 that proclaimed the city as the “complete and united” capital of the Israeli state.

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss recently came under fire after relaying to her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid that she was considering relocating the UK embassy to Jerusalem. The UK’s current position is that Jerusalem should be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.

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