Australia has withdrawn its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has revoked a previous government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.

The cabinet of the center-left Labor Party agreed to re-recognize Tel Aviv as the capital and confirmed that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

Australia remained committed to a bilateral solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and “we will not support an approach that undermines that prospect”, Wong said.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2018, although the Australian embassy remained in Tel Aviv.

The change followed then-US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Joe Biden has kept the embassy in Jerusalem as the US pulls back from its once intense mediation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, who have not held substantive peace talks in more than a decade.

Wong described Morrison’s move as internationally unusual and a “cynical play” to win a by-election in a Sydney area with a large Jewish population.

Morrison’s Liberal Party fielded Jewish candidate Dave Sharma, who was defeated in the by-election but won the seat in the next general election.

The Morrison government was voted out of office in May after nine years in power.

Nasser Mashni, vice-president of the rights group Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, thanked the government for “distancing itself from the dangerous political posture of the previous government”.

“This reversal brings Australia back into the international consensus – Australia should not pre-determine the final status of Jerusalem,” Mashney said in a statement.

“Israel claims the entire city is exclusively theirs, denying the Palestinians’ connection to their ancient spiritual, cultural and economic capital,” Mashni added.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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