Australia has become one of the few countries to formally recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but says it will not move its embassy from Tel Aviv until a peace settlement is reached.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said the government will also recognise a future state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution.
The foreign policy shift on West Jerusalem was announced by Morrison during his speech to the Sydney Institute on Saturday.
The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said the government’s decision was a “humiliating backdown” from a rushed byelection announcement and accused the prime minister of putting “his political interest ahead of our national interest”. His comments were echoed by Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, who described it as a “reckless move” and said Morrison was trying to save face.
On Saturday evening Wong released a statement describing the move as “all risk and no gain” and tweeted: “Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in government would reverse this decision. The status of Jerusalem can only be resolved as part of any peace negotiations and two-state solution.”
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