Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday said Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved. Morrison said he is also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal. Morrison in a speech in Sydney said, “Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem — being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government — is the capital of Israel.”
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
Palestinian ambassador to Australia Izzat Abdulhadi told AFP on Friday that the Palestinian government will press for Arab and Muslim states to “withdraw their Ambassadors” and take some “economic boycott measures” over Canberra’s decision. Most foreign nations have avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city’s final status — until US President Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy there earlier this year. Morrison first floated a shift in foreign policy in October, which angered Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
The issue has put a halt on years-long negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.
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. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously hailed Morrison’s initiative. The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) on Saturday said Morrison’s move “serves no Australian interest”.