Australia’s center-left government is reversing a decision by the previous conservative administration to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced the decision Tuesday in Canberra, saying the city’s status should be decided through peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people.
Wong said Australia “will always be a steadfast friend of Israel,” but said her country “will not support an approach that undermines” the chance of a two-state solution that envisions the creation of a Palestinian nation existing alongside Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid insisted that Jerusalem “is the eternal undivided capital of Israel and nothing will change that” in a written statement released by his office.
He said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Cabinet had been misled by a media report about Jerusalem, and that he hopes it “manages other matters more seriously and professionally."
Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Australian envoy to lodge an official protest.
Former conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2018, but left Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv. Wong said Morrison’s decision was a “cynical” attempt to win a special parliamentary election in a suburb of Sydney with a large Jewish population.
Morrison’s decision came a year after former U.S. President Donald Trump recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital. Morrison’s move caused friction between Australia and neighboring Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
The reversal comes after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade removed language from its website describing West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.