Australia now recognises west Jerusalem 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.
Canberra became one of just a few governments around the world to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognise the contested city as Israel’s capital, but Morrison also committed to recognising a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital.
“Australia now recognises west Jerusalem 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.
Most foreign nations avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city’s final status — until Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy there earlier this year.
“We look forward to moving our embassy to west Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” Morrison said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was underway.
In the interim, the prime minister said, Australia would establish a defence and trade office in the west of the holy city.