2. Australia reverses big decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital


2. Australia reverses decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Australia said on Tuesday that the status of the city should be decided via peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian people, overturning a decision made by the previous administration to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Penny Wong, Australia’s minister of foreign affairs, said that her country “would always remain a firm friend of Israel” and that it was dedicated to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state live in harmony within internationally recognised boundaries.

The government “recommits Australia to international efforts in the responsible pursuit of progress towards a fair and long-lasting two-state solution,” the official said in a statement.

By declaring that Australia recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but will not immediately transfer its embassy there, former Prime Minister Scott Morrison altered decades of Middle East policy in December 2018.

Jerusalem had been recognised as the capital a year earlier by former US President Donald Trump.

According to Wong, Morrison’s 2018 decision “placed Australia out of sync with the bulk of the international community” and was greeted with worry by Indonesia, a neighbouring country with a mostly-Muslim population.

“I regret Mr. Morrison’s choice to play politics, which led to Australia’s changing posture, and the misery these adjustments have caused to many Australians who care profoundly about this subject,” she added.

Days before a byelection in a Sydney district with a sizable Jewish population that his Liberal party lost, Morrison had hinted in 2018 that the embassy may be relocated from Tel Aviv.

Monday saw a revision to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, according to The Guardian, which removed text designating west Jerusalem as the capital.

Tuesday, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, according to Wong, made the choice.

A Labor-led government has been in power for the first time in nine years after Morrison’s coalition of Liberals lost the May election.

On Tuesday, the Israeli embassy in Canberra was closed, and a request for comment was not immediately returned.