Australia drops recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Australia has reversed a previous government’s recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to the foreign minister’s speech on Tuesday prompting consternation from Israel.

The center-left Labor Party government agreed to again recognize Tel Aviv as the capital. The Cabinet also reaffirmed that Jerusalem’s status must be resolved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

However, Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed disappointment in Australia’s changed position stating, “Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of Israel and nothing will change that.”

Prior to this, In the 1967 Mideast war, Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to holy sites of three faiths, along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. The status of Jerusalem remains one of the thorniest issues in the decadeslong conflict and has precipitated numerous rounds of violence.

Only a handful of countries, including Kosovo and Guatemala, have joined the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Different remarks were made by leaders of Israel and Australia on this sudden change came positive and negative. 

Senior Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh said he welcomed Australia’s decision “and its affirmation that the future of sovereignty over Jerusalem depends on the permanent solution based on international legitimacy.”

Furthermore, Nasser Mashni, vice president of the human rights group Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, thanked the government for “differentiating itself from the dangerous political posturing of the previous government.”

Also, Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Birmingham described the change as a “completely unnecessary decision” that followed a “shambolic process.”

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