Australia reverses course on recognizing West Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Jewish men pray covered in prayer shawls as they participate in a blessing during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot at the Western Wall beneath the Dome of the Rock mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Australian officials have reversed course on recognizing West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, going back on a policy instituted by its former conservative prime minister.

“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,” Australian foreign minister Penny Wong said in a statement on Monday. “This reverses the Morrison Government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

The move reverses former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Wong said Australia will keep its embassy in Tel Aviv.

“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.”

The Guardian first reported the news. 

“Australia is committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders,” Wong said in her statement. “We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.”

Wong also said that Australia will remain a “steadfast friend of Israel,” adding that government doesn’t plan to waiver its support for Israel and the Jewish community.

“We are equally unwavering supporters of the Palestinian people, providing humanitarian support every year since 1951 and advocating for resumed peace negotiations,” Wong added. 

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs initially walked back its reversal of recognizing West Jerusalem as the capital, telling ABC News in a statement on Monday that its considering “the final status of Jerusalem as a matter to be resolved as part of any peace negotiations,” according to the Times of Israel. 

Tensions rose between Israel and Palestine last year, which resulted in ongoing fighting between Israeli authorities and Palestine militants in the Gaza region which ended in a ceasefire agreement in August. 

Former President Trump also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a 2017 announcement, which was seen as a fatal blow to peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

Updated 11 p.m.

Tags Australia Israeli–Palestinian conflict Jerusalem Scott Morrison
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