Published: Sat, December 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Australia recognises west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Australia recognises west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Australia has made a decision to formally recognize west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but won't move its embassy until there's a peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians, Prime Minister Morrison announced Saturday.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.

The Palestinian leadership on Saturday (Dec 15) described as "irresponsible" Australia's recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying it violated global law.

As part of the acknowledgement, Australia will establish a defence and trade office in Jerusalem, although moving the nation's embassy to the city from Tel Aviv will be delayed until the status of the city is determined under a peace settlement.

The Morrison government will also seek to recognise a future Palestinian state. "All of Jerusalem remains a final status issue for negotiations, while East Jerusalem, under global law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory".

In December 2017, United Nations member states voted decisively at the General Assembly in favour of a resolution effectively declaring U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital to be "null and void" and demanding it be cancelled.

"Protests may continue at the embassy in Jakarta or at any of Australia's consulates-general in Surabaya, Bali and Makassar", the alert said. However, the US President Donald Trump decision to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv delighted Israel.

The US embassy was moved to the city in May.

Morrison had earlier floated the idea that Australia may follow the contentious US move of relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but it was seen by many Australians as a political stunt.

When Morrison said in October that he was considering an embassy switch, the announcement was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but lambasted by Muslim-majority nations in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia put an imminent free-trade deal with Australia on ice, while Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said it could add to the causes of terrorism.

Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia's diplomatic corps to Jerusalem amid warnings from his own officials about the cost and security implications.

The opposition Labor party criticised Mr Morrison for putting "self-interest ahead of the national interest".

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, including the eastern sector that it annexed in a move not recognised internationally, after the 1967 Middle East war.

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.

Mr Morrison will support the push to name the contested city as Israel's capital on the belief it will progress peace talks in the Middle East.

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