Opinions Divided As Morrison Announces Foreign Policy Shake-Up
The Prime Minister has offered a solution to the controversy he sparked when he floated the idea of shifting Australia’s embassy in Israel in October.
Over the last seven decades there have been countless violent skirmishes between Israelis and Palestinians, both claiming Jerusalem is theirs.
Scott Morrison says Australia will now recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Australia now recognises West Jerusalem, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel.”
Morrison revealed he would consider moving the embassy during the final days of the campaign to try and keep Malcolm Turnbull's seat of Wentworth, where there is a large Jewish population.
Floating the idea created tensions with our closest neighbors, in particular Indonesia, which expressed dissatisfaction with Australia.
“West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And we look forward to moving our Embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after final status determination,” Morrison said.
“We have decided to start the work though now to identify a suitable site for an Australian embassy in West Jerusalem.”
Once a peace deal is reached, Palestinians will be acknowledged by Australia as having claim to East Jerusalem.
But Bassam Dally from the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, says that is not enough.
“What the Prime Minister did, is basically say we are going to acknowledge everything that the Israelis want, acknowledge the realities on the ground, and we are going to promise the Palestinians something in the future that may or may not happen.”
“It will not help peace in any way, shape or form.”
Australia's embassy is currently in Tel Aviv, but work will now start in searching for a site in Jerusalem.
When Donald Trump announced the US embassy would move, 55 people died in violent clashes on the Israeli border.
Scott Morrison has won praise for the way he has approached the announcement today.
Security and counter-terror expert Isaac Kfir said "the statement is well balanced, he certainly makes it very clear, Australia will only recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
But the Opposition has not been so kind, with Bill Shorten saying “Mr Morrison has tried to copy Donald Trump, and he's failed to even do that.”
“Labor's position is the view of the sensible world opinion and the best advice within Australian foreign policy,” Shorten said.
“What we believe is that Jerusalem should be recognised as the capital of both Israel and Palestine as part of the final stages of a negotiated two-state peace deal between Palestine and Israel.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will continue to support a two-state solution, “The international community must move beyond ritual denunciations of Israel, to urge a return to negotiations towards a two-state solution.”