Well, you can’t say that Donald Trump was entirely alone in his decision to move the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Guatemala followed suit not long after, and now Australia has “recognized” West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The new Prime Minister made the announcement this week, but he added several caveats to their official statement. (BBC)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that his government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
However, he said Australia’s embassy would not move from Tel Aviv, until a peace settlement was achieved.
He added Australia also recognised the aspirations of the Palestinians to a state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israel and the Palestinians.
So under the terms of this announcement, Australia will very specifically recognize West Jerusalem as the capital. They’re tiptoeing along the line here and simultaneously recognizing “the aspirations of the Palestinians” to have their own state and reserving Australia’s intention to recognize East Jerusalem as their capital if and when that ever happens.
Also, the Aussies are doing a bit of hedging by declaring their intention to move their embassy to West Jerusalem, but not giving any timeline for doing it. All they’ll say for now is that the move will happen after “a peace settlement” is reached. Given the way things are currently going over there, the Australians probably don’t need to set aside too much money for moving expenses.
While the headline looks like good news for Israel in terms of building international support, after reading the details I’m tempted to just ask why they bothered with this in the first place. I suppose it’s a nice symbolic touch, but if you’re not going to move the embassy, what real effect does this have? If they’re going to be leaving their main embassy in Tel Aviv, they could have at least offered to open up an honorary consulate in Jerusalem. (Twelve other countries already do this, including Austria, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.)
The new Prime Minister of Australia is definitely showing signs of being more “subtle” (to put it mildly) than his predecessor. He’s not one for taking sides or sticking his neck out thus far and this announcement is more of the same. He’s pretty much endorsed the Palestinians at the same time that he supposedly offered a show of support for Israel. While it’s better than jumping on the BDS bandwagon, pardon me if I’m not overly impressed.