SYDNEY: Australia now recognises west Occupied al-Quds as Israel´s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved.
Morrison also committed to recognising a future state of Palestine with east Occupied al-Quds as its capital when the city´s status is determined in a peace deal.
“Australia now recognises west Occupied al-Quds — being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government — is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said in a speech in Sydney on Saturday.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Occupied al-Quds as their capital.
Most foreign nations have avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city´s final status — until US President Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy there earlier this year.
“We look forward to moving our embassy to west Occupied al-Quds when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” Morrison said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was under way.
In the interim, the prime minister said, Australia would establish a defence and trade office in the west of the holy city.
“Furthermore, recognising our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian government is also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in east Occupied al-Quds,” he added.
Morrison first floated a shift in foreign policy in October, which angered Australia´s immediate neighbour Indonesia — the world´s most populous Muslim nation.
The issue has put a halt on years-long negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.
Canberra on Friday told its citizens travelling to Indonesia to “exercise a high degree of caution”, warning of protests in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and popular holiday hotspots, including Bali.
Morrison said it was in Australia´s interests to support “liberal democracy” in the Middle East, and took aim at the United Nations he
said was a place Israel is “bullied”.
Trump´s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv last May prompted tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters to approach the heavily-protected Israeli border. At least 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire that day.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously hailed Morrison´s initiative.
The Palestinian government will press for Arab and Muslim states to “withdraw their Ambassadors” and take some “meat and wheat” style “economic boycott measures” over Canberra´s decision, Palestinian ambassador to Australia Izzat Abdulhadi told AFP on Friday.