Australia on Tuesday said that it was reversing its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that has infuriated Israeli officials.
The government of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is reversing a decision made by his predecessor, Scott Morrison, who followed the US in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem in 2017, and Morrison’s government did so in 2018.
“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.
The US recognition involved moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But the Australian embassy is still in Tel Aviv and that’s where Wong said it would remain.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded by expressing its “deep disappointment” in Australia. Israeli Foreign Ministry official Aliza Bin Noun told Australia’s ambassador to Israel that the reversal was a “wretched decision.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid also harshly criticized Australia’s decision. “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.
Wong’s statement came after the Guardian reported that the Australian Foreign Ministry removed text from its website that said it recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.