Australia’s new leftist government announced Tuesday that it was reversing the decision by the previous conservative administration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.
Australia’s Labor Party government said that it would recognize Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital and demanded that Israel determine the city’s status in peace talks with the Palestinians. The capital of Israel is all of Jerusalem, not just the western part of the city.
“Today the Government has reaffirmed Australia’s previous and longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement. “This reverses the Morrison Government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Wong claimed that Australia would not waver in its support of Israel even though the country was doing just that in announcing the reversal.
“I regret that Mr Morrison’s decision to play politics resulted in Australia’s shifting position, and the distress these shifts have caused to many people in the Australian community who care deeply about this issue,” Wong added.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid responded to the news in a statement questioning the very core of Australia’s government.
“In light of the way this decision was made in Australia, as a hasty response to an incorrect report in the media, we can only hope that the Australian government manages other matters more seriously and professionally,” Lapid said. “Jerusalem is the eternal and united capital of Israel and nothing will ever change that.”
Prime Minister Lapid:
"Jerusalem is the eternal and united capital of Israel and nothing will ever change that."
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) October 18, 2022
Hours before announcing that Australia was no longer recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, a spokesperson for Wong claimed that there had been “no decision to change that has been made by the government.”
Yet hours later Wong was accusing former Prime Minister Scott Morrison of trying to manipulate the Jewish vote in Australia by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.
“You know what this was? This was a cynical play, unsuccessful, to win the seat of Wentworth and a by-election,” she claimed without evidence.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned Australian Ambassador Paul Griffiths to Jerusalem to be reprimanded over the matter.
“The timing of this morning’s cabinet decision was clearly media driven,” the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said. “The status of Jerusalem is an important foreign policy issue and it is demeaning for Australia to have its international position changed in such a shoddy manner…[It is] a gratuitous insult to a key economic and strategic ally, with no countervailing benefit for Australians. This is no way to treat an ally whose intelligence-sharing with Australia has prevented at least one terrorist attack against Australians that we know of.”