Australia recognises West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

December 15, 2018 by J-Wire
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Australia now recognises West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is now starting a search for a suitable site for its embassy within the Holy City.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at The Sydney Institute in Sydney, Saturday, December 15, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to the Sydney Institute where he announced the government’s decision adding that “we look forward to moving our Embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after the final status determination”.  

He stressed: “The UN Security Council has consistently endorsed a two-state solution, negotiated directly between Israel and the Palestinians, as the way in which ‘final status’ issues are to be resolved. These ‘final status’ issues include the status of Jerusalem, the right of return of refugees, the status of Israeli settlements, and the provision of security and the future borders of a Palestinian state.”

He pointed out: “Out of respect for the clearly communicated preference of the Israeli Government for countries to not establish consulates or honorary consular offices in West Jerusalem, the Australian Government will establish a Trade and Defence Office in West Jerusalem. With deepening defence industry ties and Australia-Israel trade now running at over $1.3 billion per year, this will help continue to build our strong bilateral relationship.            

Furthermore, recognising our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian Government has also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem.”

He added that it reinforces our clear view that the status of Jerusalem can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties consistent with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.

According to Scott Morrison, Israel nor the Palestinians continue to view the other side really as a genuine partner for peace. Reiterating Australia’s support for a two-state solution he said: “The lapse of time and the failure to progress the negotiations I believe has changed the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

A rancid stalemate has emerged. Slavish adherence to the conventional wisdom over decades appears only to be further entrenching this stalemate, providing a leave pass for continued inaction. For everyone to just keeping doing what they’re doing, and looking the other way. Don’t raise the issue, just keep doing what you’re doing.”

He mentioned that the UN Human Rights Council passed six motions condemning Israel saying “and last month, at my direction, Australia opposed six resolutions that attacked Israel in the UN General Assembly.

He commented: “These included the ‘Jerusalem’ resolution, which contains biased and one-sided language attacking Israel and denies its historical connection to the city, and the ‘Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine’ resolution, which confers on the Palestinian Authority a status it does not have. In the past, we had abstained on these resolutions. Not anymore and not on my watch.

We won’t turn a blind eye to an anti-Semitic agenda masquerading as a defence of human rights as a nation like Australia.”

Australia will remain critical of Israel and we will “openly rebuke a sincere friend”. Morrison has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Australia remains critical of Israel’s land appropriations, demolitions and settlement activity.

The prime minister concluded his statement by saying: “Jerusalem – the home of the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Wailing Wall and the Via Dolorosa – deserves better than the rancid stalemate and better than the polarisation that marks its peoples.

When Anwar Sadat courageously addressed the Knesset just over 40 years ago, he said: “there is no happiness to the detriment of others”. Those words are still true.

The Israeli and Palestinian people deserve a peace as worthy as the promise of their lands – and they deserve a lasting happiness that can only spring from a shared peace.”

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten said: “We are having an argument about something that most Australians didn’t realise was a problem. It’s been a humiliating back down by Mr Morrison. I am not sure when he rushed the announcement of moving the embassy that he really knew what he was doing. I’m tempted to think it was a sort of, rookie mistake by an L-Plate Prime Minister. But it is a little more serious than that. My fear is that Mr Morrison hasn’t just had to do a political back down, my fear is that he has made Australia look stupid on the international stage.

Conflict in the Middle East is a complex issue. People have been trying to resolve it for decades, and there are very strongly held views on both sides. Rushing in and making a premature announcement about Middle Eastern foreign policy just to sort out a domestic political by-election in Wentworth, I feel was risky and foolish. What I am worried about is that Mr Morrison put his political interest ahead of our national interest. So you know, I regret that we’ve seen a complex debate derailed by reckless and foolish behaviour. Australian Government foreign policy on the Middle East can’t afford to be dictated by short-term polling considerations in Australia.”

Shadow Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong added: “The Government’s decision to maintain Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv is a humiliating rebuff to the Prime Minister.
It confirms Mr Morrison’s proposal to shift the embassy to Jerusalem was just a cynical ploy to try to pretend he had shifted position for votes in Wentworth.

Recognising West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while continuing to locate Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv, is nothing more than a face-saving exercise that shows Mr Morrison continues to put self-interest ahead of the national interest.

This is a decision which is all risk and no gain. It is a reckless move by a desperate and divided government that satisfies no one.”

She added: “Labor is a strong supporter of the state of Israel. That will never change. Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on the grounds that this is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations and two-state solution.

We will not support any policy that undermines the prospect of a two-state solution which recognises Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognised boundaries and the creation of a Palestinian state.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has welcomed the Australian government’s groundbreaking announcement.e today.

In a joint statement made by ECAJ President Anton Block and CEOs, Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin, the ECAJ praised the announcement as “a simple acknowledgement of a reality that has existed since 1950. The Prime Minister deserves credit for resisting pressure from many quarters against taking even this modest step”.

“Recognising that Israel’s seat of government is located in the western part of the city, which is incontestably sovereign Israeli territory, does not in any way impact upon or prejudge the future status of the contested eastern and other parts of the city captured by Israel in 1967”, they said.

“The Prime Minister noted that Jerusalem’s ultimate status, including its borders and boundaries, is a final status issue to be resolved between the parties”, they added. “This is a pointed rejection of the Palestinians’ demand that their claim to the whole of eastern Jerusalem must be accepted up front, as was the Prime Minister’s statement that Australia expects the capital of a future Palestinian state to be located ‘in’ east Jerusalem. This leaves open the possibility that the predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods located in east Jerusalem can become a part of Israel in any negotiated settlement”.

“We hope that this will be a first step only”, the ECAJ spokespeople said. “We look forward to Australia moving its embassy in Israel to the government precinct in the western part of Jerusalem in due course. Moving Australia’s embassy there would be no more pre-emptive of the outcome of peace negotiations than recognising it as Israel’s capital”.

The original announcement from Prime Minister Morrison was ahead of a by-election for the Sydney electorate of Wentworth, home to a large proportion of the city’s 60,000 Jews. It had been held by Morrison’s Liberal party since 1944 and was to fall to an independent candidate.

Comments

3 Responses to “Australia recognises West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”
  1. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Oops Mr. Prime Minister… I’m an Australian and I recognize ALL Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel.
    Is it possible you intend to sell out our Capital Canberra and divide it into quarters and sell one quarter to the Arabs, one to the Chinese, maybe our indigenous people will be luck and be allocated one quarter… Mmm, who will get the last quarter?? France or Germany… no, no, I’m sure the EU will expand and go global too, perhaps they will take the last quarter?

  2. Leon Poddebsky says:

    I am now eagerly awaiting the Australian government’s recognition that the sun is at the centre of our solar system

  3. Adrian Jackson says:

    The PM having opened his big mouth during the Wentworth by-election it came to nothing with the election of the independent and annoying many other nations (Muslim and non Muslim).

    Now Morrison says Australia recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is talking about East and West Jerusalem as separate entities when they are not and both Israel and Palestine see Jerusalem as one city not another cold war Berlin.

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