Israel seethes over Australian about-face on Jerusalem, summons ambassador

‘Why did Australia reverse Jerusalem recognition during Sukkot holiday?’ Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Jerusalem’s mayor, and Israeli Foreign Ministry excoriate Australia’s new Labor government for walking back partial recognition of Jerusalem.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel summoned the Australian ambassador for a meeting with Foreign Minister political bureau chief Aliza Bin-Noun Tuesday afternoon, after Australia announced that it will be reversing the decision to partially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On Tuesday afternoon, Australian Ambassador to Israel Paul Griffiths was summoned for a formal dressing down by Bin-Noun, who castigated both the decision to nix Australian recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the timing of the move.

The reversal was “surprising,” Bin-Noun said, telling Griffiths that Israel is deeply disappointed with his government’s behavior, saying the decision “ignores Israel’s deep, ever-lasting ties to its historic capital.”

Bin-Noun warned that, in contrast to Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s claim that the move was an important step towards an “enduring two-state solution,” the declaration would likely embolden radicals in the Palestinian Authority to escalate regional tensions.

She also noted that the announcement nixing Australian recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital came during the Sukkot holiday, “a time when the Jewish people around the world celebrate Sukkot and the special connection to Jerusalem.”

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On Monday, Australia’s new center-left Labor government purged references to Canberra’s previous recognition of western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, sparking concerns Australia was reversing course on the Morrison government’s position vis-à-vis Israel’s capital city.

A day later, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong confirmed that the new government, led by Anthony Albanese, does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

“We will not support an approach that undermines a two-state solution. Australia’s embassy has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong declared.

“Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations,” Wong stated, saying the announcement “reverses the Morrison government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” and “recommits Australia to international efforts in the responsible pursuit of progress towards a just and enduring two-state solution.”

Moshe Leon, Mayor of Jerusalem, rejected the declaration in a statement, saying: “The united city of Jerusalem was and will continue to be the capital of Israel forever. Declarations like this do not advance anything, and are of no benefit.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid slammed Wong’s announcement, saying Tuesday morning: “Given the way Australia reached its decision, as a rushed response to a false media report, we can only hope that the Australian government is more serious in other matters.

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“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and nothing will ever change that,” he said.