Canberra / Ramallah – Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, without paying much heed to the international criticism, recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Prime Minister Morrison announced that it was a moral obligation for Australia to stand with Israel, whom the United Nations and European countries had repeatedly threatened. However, Morrison clarified that unlike the United States, Australia would not be moving their embassy to Jerusalem just yet. Meanwhile, considering the repercussions of the decision, he has advised Australian citizens to avoid travelling to Indonesia.
On Saturday morning, Prime Minister Morrison announced the decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Morrison said that it was within the framework of the ‘two-state solution’ and the rules of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Although Australia declared West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the Australian Embassy would continue to be operational in Tel Aviv. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Morrison said that Australia’s defence and trade offices would be relocated to West Jerusalem. Furthermore, he clarified that the Australian Embassy would not be moved to West Jerusalem till the time a peace agreement is reached between Israel and Palestine. Morrison also said that Australia is firm on its support for Palestine as an independent country and East Jerusalem as its capital. Moreover, on Friday, the Australian Prime Minister was reportedly expected to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since he announced only West Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, the Israeli media has expressed surprise over the matter.
Palestine’s Abbas government has sharply criticised the Australian Prime Minister’s decision while Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat blamed the Australian Prime Minister to have made an irresponsible decision. Erekat claimed that the decision violated the United Nations regulations. Australia’s Southeast Asian neighbour, Indonesia criticised the Australian PM’s decision and announced severing political ties with the country. At the same time, the Australian government has also advised its citizens to avoid travelling to Indonesia because of the perceived threat to their safety from the staunch supporters of Palestine.
Around a year ago, US President Donald Trump had declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and in the following weeks also relocated its embassy to Jerusalem. Albeit, the US President’s decision received severe criticism. The United States and Israel’s European allies were the ones that had lambasted President Trump’s decision and had explicitly rejected any support to Israel on Jerusalem. It had therefore created tensions between the European countries and Israel.