Australian leaders react to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

December 7, 2017 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes President Trump’s recognition of Israel’s right to determine its own capital, a long-awaited affirmation of a historical reality.

Dr Danny Lamm

President Dr Danny Lamm said: “Jerusalem is and always has been the beating heart of the Jewish people; it has been the capital of the Jewish Nation for over 3,000 years. The government functions from Jerusalem, the courts rule from there. The Prime Minister resides in Jerusalem. To deny Jerusalem as a part of the Jewish narrative is to suggest that the body does not need the heart in order to continue breathing.

I am pleased that this has been acknowledged by President Trump, and we look forward to other countries, including our own, to follow suit and do what it is morally right.”

In the meantime, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told media in Canberra: “We will not be taking steps to move our embassy in Israel, it will continue to offer diplomatic assistance in Tel Aviv.”

She reiterated that Australia is committed to a two-state solution adding “whereby the Israeli people and the Palestinian people can live in peace side-by-side within internationally-recognised boundaries remains our foreign policy objective”.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s executive director Peter Wertheim took to the airwaves speaking to ABC’s Fiona Ellis-Jones.

Peter Wertheim

Trump says preparations will begin to move America’s embassy to the Holy City, which is at the centre of a dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.

Wertheim told the ABC: “The reality is there hasn’t been a change in terms of the final status issues between Israel and the Palestinians and all of the options that were previously open remain open.”

Listen to Peter Wertheim’s interview with Fiona Ellis-Jones.


The ECAJ writes: “For many years, the ECAJ has supported such measures and has called in its policy platform for the Australian embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem.

Israel’s parliament, Ministerial offices, Supreme Court, President’s residence and Prime Minister’s residence have been located in Jerusalem since the State of Israel was established in 1948.  When government officials from other countries visit Israel, they meet with Israeli government officials, and one another, in Jerusalem.  When the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made his first visit to Israel in 1977, two years before Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty, he went to Jerusalem and addressed the Israeli parliament there.

Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is therefore a pragmatic acknowledgement of an existing reality.

President Trump clearly stated that the US has not made any pre-judgement about the boundaries of Jerusalem or sought to alter the status quo concerning the Holy sites.  He referred to the Temple Mount also by its Arabic name, Haram al-Sharif.

The US embassy is likely to be relocated to Israel’s government precinct in the western part of the city, which has been part of Israel’s sovereign territory since 1948, not the part of Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan when it repelled Jordan’s military attack in 1967, and is misleadingly referred to as “Occupied East Jerusalem”.

Moving the embassy from one location within Israel’s sovereign borders to another therefore does not pre-empt the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a two-state solution. The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not preclude the designation of the predominantly Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.

We urge the Palestinian leadership to return to face to face negotiations with Israel rather than try to extract concessions from Israel through international pressure.  Israel has made three public offers to the Palestinians which, after modest land swaps, would have given them a sovereign State over territory equal in size to 100% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The attempt to establish a Palestinian state in the absence of a comprehensive peace agreement with Israel violates international agreements and would precipitate even worse violence and bloodshed than the conflict has produced to date.

Finally, we express our gratitude to the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Bridges for Peace and Christians for Israel for submitting a petition signed by 8,133 Australians to the Australian Parliament calling for the Australian embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, and to the Senator from Victoria, James Paterson, for tabling the petition on 5 December 2017. We hope that together with the announcement by the US Administration the petition will provide the impetus for a similar move by Australia in due course.”

President Mark Leibler and executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein said: “AIJAC welcomes the announcement by the US Trump Administration yesterday that it will correct a historic injustice by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and begin the process of moving the US Embassy to the city.

It is simply unconscionable that Israel is the only nation in the world that is effectively disallowed from choosing its own capital, even though Jerusalem has been the Jewish state’s capital since 1950, and the Knesset and other key buildings were built in the western part of the city that is undisputed.

At a time when there is a campaign underway by the Palestinians and their supporters to re-write history and deny all Jewish links to the city in resolutions passed in both UNESCO and the UN General Assembly, it is both common sense and basic decency for states to recognise what the reality is – Jerusalem simply is and has been Israel’s capital. No serious peace plan has ever been proposed which would see Jerusalem cease to be Israel’s capital in future.

Moreover, as President Trump’s measured and careful speech announcing the policy change made clear, there is absolutely no reason why recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should pre-empt Israeli-Palestinian negotiations about the city’s future or borders, including the possibility the city could serve as the capital of a Palestinian state, as well as Israel’s, under a negotiated peace deal.

Allowing the threat of violence by some Palestinian groups and others to veto such a move would essentially amount to caving into extremists and terrorists.

Given the current destructive Palestinian campaign to re-write Jerusalem’s history, and the failure of the Palestinian leadership to return to peace negotiations since 2014, there is surely a case for other nations to consider following the example of the US, Russia, Vanuatu and the Czech Republic in recognising Israel’s right to select its own capital. Such recognition not only helps correct an injustice and end a discriminatory situation, it is strongly arguable that it is a positive move for promoting a renewed two-state peace process.”


6 Responses to “Australian leaders react to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    Why don’t you go to Israel and check it out, Adrian? Then you’ll find the convenience of being in West Jerusalem if that’s where your work is. Not much point generalising if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Israel is a tiny country. It’s a waste of time comparing it to Australia in any way at all.
    P.S. I use the term ‘Me thinks’ quite often myself. Me thinks it traces back to Elizabethan times

  2. Liat Kirby says:

    You have a strange idea of Embassies and their functions. They’re not placed near each other in a city to play footsies. All staff of Embassies presently have to travel to Jerusalem to liaise with the Prime Minister Netanyahu and Knesset members or their offices, so the US Embassy will find it much easier to actually do business. And it won’t make any difference to any American citizens who want to visit them. As Russia recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last April and the Czech Republic and Vanuatu recognise Jerusalem as the capital, there might be a quartet of embassies rather than a lone one anyway.

    On another topic in regard to the matter, it was to be expected that we would have Julie Bishop speaking as Foreign Minister in response to the situation, parroting the mantra of the two state solution in a monotone as flat as the expression on her face. In other words, avoiding the issue and the reality and keeping to the status quo. What sort of political training do these people receive?! How to avoid answering questions and how to not respond directly to an issue. It is both ineffectual and boring.

  3. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Methinks that Hadrian Jackson is unhappy.

    • Adrian Jackson says:

      Come on, Tel Aviv is a short drive from Jerusalem in my atlas.

      Many commuters travel that distance daily in Melbourne and Australian MP’s fly hundreds or thousands of km to their electorates weekly when Canberra’s parliament is sitting.

      Aren’t most of the businesses based in Tel Aviv while religious and general tourism is located in Jerusalem?

      US Embassy cocktail parties on 04 July and Thanks Giving may be poorly attended with the other Embassies in Tel Aviv likely to staying away too.

    • Adrian Jackson says:

      Is it Me thinks or I think? Adrian not Hadrian too but probably a typo.

  4. Adrian Jackson says:

    The US Embassy, if it actually moves to Jerusalem, will be pretty lonely being the only embassy there. The proposal could merely be huff and wind from Trump again.

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