Australia played it safe when announcing it’s position of Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol yesterday. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison only gave Israel legitimacy to West Jerusalem until East Jerusalem’s status is  decided in any future peace agreement.

“Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem, being the seat of the [Israeli legislature] Knesset and many of institutions of the government, is the capital of Israel. West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel … We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical in support of and after final status determination,” Morrison said during a speech in Sydney as broadcast by the SBS broadcaster.

Morrison added that the Australian government had decided to start work to identify a suitable site for the embassy in West Jerusalem. Moreover, the prime minister said, citing Israel’s preferences that states do not set up consulates in West Jerusalem, that Australia would establish a trade and defense office there.

The prime minister added that Australia recognized the aspirations of the Palestinians for having their own state with a capital in East Jerusalem. Morrison argued that this position showed Australia’s respect for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the relevant UNSC resolution.

In May, the United States relocated its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prompting the outrage of the Muslim world. Brazil, the Czech Republic, Guatemala and Honduras have also recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

According to Morrison’s statements back in October, Australia’s former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, had been instrumental in pushing this consideration. Morrison announced that he intends to discuss this option with his government’s cabinet in the coming months.

“In previous discussions, the premise was that you couldn’t address the issue without risking or damaging the final outcome” of negotiations for a two-state solution. However, the former ambassador’s intervention had a positive effect on seeing that this could be decided without affecting Australia’s position on the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict


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