West News Wire: Australia has decided to reverse a decision made by the administration of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2018 and no longer recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong stated in a statement that “today the Government has reaffirmed Australia’s previous and longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people.”
This nullifies the Morrison Administration’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Canberra is committed to a two-state solution “in which Israel and a future Palestinian state live, in peace and security, inside internationally recognized borders,” according to Wong, who reaffirmed that Australia’s embassy will stay in Tel Aviv.
She added: “We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.”
The status of Jerusalem is one of the biggest sticking points in attempts to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel regards the entire city, including the eastern sector it annexed after the 1967 Middle East war, as its capital while Palestinian officials, with broad international backing, want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority hailed Australia’s move that will likely bring the Israeli-Palestinian issue into spotlight.
“We welcome Australia’s decision with regards to Jerusalem & its call for a two-state solution in accordance with international legitimacy,” the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs minister, Hussein al-Sheikh, said on Twitter.
Sheikh hailed Australia’s “affirmation that the future of sovereignty over Jerusalem depends on the permanent solution based on international legitimacy”.
Shahram Akbarzadeh from Deakin University said that the Australia’s move will revive the international consensus on the status of Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday sharply criticised Australia’s decision.
Lapid described the move as a “hasty response”, adding: “We can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally.
Former Australian Prime Minister Morrison announced his conservative government would recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after the United States went back on decades of policy by recognising the city and moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
The Australian decision was widely criticised by pro-Palestinian groups as well as by the Labor party, which was then in opposition and promised to reverse the move if it was elected.