Austrian president erases Jerusalem ‘capital of Israel’ from social media post

First describing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Austrian president then reworded the post as “it was open for misinterpretation.”

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen erased and reworded a post on his official Instagram account in which he initially called Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and clarified that he did not support an Austrian recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish State’s capital.

Van der Bellen was in Israel last week together with 45 global leaders and royals to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

On Saturday he posted a photo on Instagram in which he is seen standing in Jerusalem’s Old City with the caption “view of the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. Thank you for the hospitality!”

However, on Sunday he removed the wording on the post and left only the words “a view of Jerusalem.”

A spokesman for Austria’s presidency contacted TPS to clarify that Van der Bellen did not endorse a relocation of the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“The original wording in this Instagram posting has been corrected because it was open for misinterpretation,” Reinhard Pickl-Herk said in a statement to TPS.

“Austria’s position regarding the status of Jerusalem remains unchanged: it is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders and in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” he said.

The text was also posted on Instagram.

Van der Bellen’s initial post was confusing as he expressed opposition to relocating Austria’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only a year ago.

In a press conference with Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas following a joint meeting in Ramallah in February 2019, Van der Bellen said he opposed moving foreign embassies in Israel to Jerusalem, citing the European Union’s stance on this issue.

The U.S. and Guatemala have moved their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Australia, Honduras and Brazil have opened trade offices in Jerusalem, and Slovakia and Ukraine have plans to open similar diplomatic offices in the city as well.

Georgia was the latest country to upgrade its diplomatic presence in Jerusalem when Georgia’s President Salome Zourabichvili on Wednesday officially inaugurated Georgia’s honorary consulate in Israel’s capital.