Monday, 17 December, 2018

Australia may also recognize East Jerusalem as future Palestinian capital

Scott Morrison open to moving Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem Australia open to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moving embassy
Melinda Barton | 16 October, 2018, 13:53

"The Australian prime minister updated [Netanyahu] that he is weighing whether to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem".

In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country might move its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a move seen as showing support to the Israeli side in the Palestinian conflict.

The U.S. Embassy became the only foreign embassy in Jerusalem in May, and Guatemala and Paraguay followed Washington's lead days later and also moved their embassies, although Paraguay returned its mission to Tel Aviv last month.

Morrison "informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Monday evening to the country's new Prime Minister Scott Morrison and thanked him for his surprising announcement. It said short-term political gain "would surely be outweighed by the detriment both to Australia's worldwide standing and in its relations with Arab and Muslim-majority countries".

"What I am doing today is recognising what is a real concern in the Jewish community in Australia - whether it is about the Iran nuclear deal, which is an item of great concern to that community, or it is on this broader question of the two state solution and how with go about achieving it".

"We are committed to a two-state solution, but frankly, it hasn't been going that well - not a lot of progress has been made", he told reporters on Tuesday.

While not a signatory to the 2015 landmark nuclear pact with Iran, Australia reversing its current support of the deal, and possibly supporting the U.S. sanctions on Tehran, would greatly please Israel - probably even more than a recognition of West Jerusalem as its capital.

He described proposals to recognise Jerusalem and move Australia's embassy as "sensible" and "persuasive" and would be considered by the government.

Morrison is a member of the Liberal party that in June of this year saw its members vote in favor of a non-binding motion to urge the government to move its embassy.

But the Labor opposition's Senate leader, Penny Wong, said Mr Morrison was playing "dangerous and deceitful word games with Australian foreign policy".

Turnbull's government had explicitly distanced itself from the decision by Trump to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as "unhelpful" to the peace process.

Australia's ambassador in Jakarta has sought an urgent meeting with Indonesian Foreign Ministry officials to explain.

Palestinians, with broad global backing, want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In their joint statement, Morrison and Payne said they would oppose a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly that would allow the "State of Palestine" to take over the chairmanship of the Group of 77, an important regional bloc at the UN.