Australia will no longer recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel: Australia announced on Tuesday that it would no longer recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, going back on a controversial decision made by the conservative government in power.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that Israelis and Palestinians should talk about the city’s status instead of making decisions on their own.
She said, “We will not support an approach that hurts the two-state solution.”
But, she also said, “Australia’s embassy has always been in Tel Aviv and will stay there.”
In 2018, a conservative government led by Scott Morrison followed the lead of former US president Donald Trump and named West Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
The move was met with backlash in Australia and caused problems with neighboring Indonesia. Which has the most Muslim people of any country in the world. This temporarily stopped a free trade deal.
Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and most other countries don’t make it the capital of any state.
“I know this has caused trouble and conflict in some parts of Australia. And the government is trying to fix that today,” Wong said.
She said the Morrison government acted because of a by-election in a beachside Sydney suburb with a large Jewish population.
“You know what this was? It was a cynical, failed plan to win the seat of Wentworth and a by-election.”
In May 2022, the center-left Labor party took power, with Anthony Albanese as prime minister and Wong as foreign minister.
Wong said that the decision did not show that he was against Israel.
She said, “Australia will always be a loyal friend of Israel. We were one of the first countries to officially recognize Israel.”
“We will always stand up for Israel and the Jewish community in Australia. And we will always stand up for the Palestinian people, including by giving them humanitarian aid.”
During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel took over Arab east Jerusalem and later made the whole city its “eternal and indivisible capital.”
Palestinians say that a future Palestinian state will be based in the east.
The Israeli government is not likely to surprise by Canberra’s decision.
The fact that language about the Israeli capital took off Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website was a sign that the policy would change.
Ran Porat, a historian and researcher at Melbourne’s Monash University says it will likely make people feel uneasy.
Even though Australia isn’t a big player in peace talks, he said, “In the Middle East, symbolism is often at the heart of many conflicts. This is not to say that symbolism isn’t important; it’s not.”
Before the November 1 elections, the Israeli opposition party Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu leads, could use this move as proof that the government is not doing its job.
Porat said that Prime Minister Yair Lapid would be upset. But that the response “has to walk the line between disagreeing and hurting ties with Canberra.”