“Australia is a great friend of Israel and we appreciate the warm relations, but there is no such thing as ‘west Jerusalem’ and ‘east Jerusalem,'” Minister Hanegbi said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Saturday after the Sabbath saying that it “views the decision of the Australian government to open its Trade and Defense office in Jerusalem as a step in the right direction.” It made no mention, however, of Canberra’s decision earlier in the day to recognize ‘west Jerusalem,’ as the capital of Israel.
Australia stopped short of moving its embassy to the capital as Jerusalem. Canberra “will recognize east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital only after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated.
As of this writing there had been no official comment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but several members of the ruling Likud party came out against what they perceived as Morrison’s half step.
“Australia is a great friend of Israel and we appreciate the warm relations, but there is no such thing as “West Jerusalem” and “East Jerusalem, there is only Jerusalem, Israel’s united and eternal capital” said Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzahi Hanegbi.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called the Australian decision “surprising,” adding that “a united Jerusalem, not just a part of it, is our eternal capital.”
Bahrain’s foreign minister Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa criticized the Arab League after it condemned Australia’s move. Al-Khalifa said Australia’s position “does not harm the legitimate demands of the Palestinians with East Jerusalem as their capital, and does not contradict the Arab peace initiative.”