Israel summons Australian ambassador after capital recognition reversal

Sydney/Jerusalem, Oct 18 (EFE).- Australia on Tuesday reversed its previous government’s decision to recognize west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, received as a “disappointment” for the Israeli government, which summoned the Australian ambassador.

“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 Canberra.

“This reverses the (Scott) Morrison government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” she added.

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

The current administration of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who won the May election ending nine years of conservative rule, will keep its embassy in Tel Aviv.

In response, the Israeli foreign ministry on Tuesday announced that it would summon Australia’s ambassador to the country, Paul Griffiths, expressing “its deep disappointment in the face of the Australian government’s decision resulting from short-sighted political considerations.”

“Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and will continue to be the eternal and united capital of Israel regardless of this or that decision,” it stressed.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid was also quick to react to Australia’s move, calling it “a hasty response to an incorrect report in the media,” adding that “we can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally.”

“Jerusalem is the eternal and united capital of Israel and nothing will ever change that,” Lapid insisted.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed the eastern part of the capital in 1980, an action criticized and unrecognized by the international community. After this annexation, the countries that had embassies in West Jerusalem – more than 20 – moved them to Tel Aviv.

The Palestinians aspire to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) welcomed Canberra’s move.

“We welcome Australia’s decision with regards to Jerusalem & its call for a two-state solution in accordance with international legitimacy,” tweeted PNA civil affairs minister and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee’s secretary general Hussein al-Sheikh.

Australia changed its policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the mandate of Morrison, who announced in December 2018 the recognition of west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, following in the footsteps of then-United States president Donald Trump.

Trump broke the international consensus by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital in December 2017, and moving the US embassy to the Holy City the following year.

Unlike the US, Australia kept its embassy in Tel Aviv, although it did open a trade and security office in west Jerusalem.

Australia has recognized Israel since 1949 and maintains relations with the PNA, although it does not recognize the Palestinian Territories as a state, given that the Oceanian country maintains its commitment to a two-state solution. EFE


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