Friday, 18 January, 2019

Australia to recognise Jerusalem as Israel capital

Aussies travelling to Bali have been warned about possible protests ahead of a decision on the location of Australia’s embassy in Israel Australia to recognise Jerusalem as Israel capital
Melinda Barton | 15 December, 2018, 14:08

The Australian government has announced it now recognises west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison stopped short of shifting the country's embassy from Tel Aviv.

When the policy review was announced in October, it drew support from Israel, but criticism from the Palestinian side.

Back in June, then-foreign minister Julie Bishop said "While I understand the sentiment behind this resolution, the Australian government will not be moving our embassy to Jerusalem".

While the embassy move is delayed, Morrison said his government will establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and will also start looking for an appropriate site for the embassy.

He said in a speech that Australia will recognise east Jerusalem as Palestine's capital only after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution.

Australia now recognises west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

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.

World leaders from the Vatican to Tehran denounced President Donald Trump's decision to relocate the United States embassy from Tel Aviv.

Mr Morrison announced a review into whether Australia would follow the U.S. lead in moving its embassy during the Wentworth by-election campaign, sparking political criticism and concern from Australia's Muslim majority neighbours and trading partners, particularly Indonesia.

Recognizing Jerusalem is expected to help the embattled Australian PM - who faces the prospect of an election drubbing next year - with Jewish and conservative Christian voters and win him friends in the White House.

Morrison's unexpected announcement in October was viewed cynically because it came days before a crucial by-election in an electorate with a strong Jewish representation, a poll his party subsequently lost. The contentious inauguration in May, timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence, escalated clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham last month signalled Canberra wasn't likely to succumb to pressure from Indonesia, which suggested it wouldn't sign a negotiated free-trade deal as long as Australia was considering moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

Mr Morrison's announcement comes after a period of consultation with politicians in Australia and allies overseas.