On Tuesday the Australian government announced a reversal to the Morrison government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
It’s easy to forget the context of Scott Morrison’s decision from 2018. It is widely recognised that he acted both to please Donald Trump, who had just moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, as well as to try and influence the Wentworth by-election. Four years later, only Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo followed the United States, as Morrison had originally hoped to do.
Immediately after the announcement, Penny Wong said she would reverse the move in government, preferring to maintain Australia’s place in the global consensus and not presuppose final status negotiations. While even the prime minister acknowledged the sloppy roll out, the decision itself should not come as a surprise.
Following the foreign minister’s announcement, we released this statement:
The Australian government is working as a balanced partner in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by forging policies which are more in line with our likeminded allies and partners around the world and support the advancement of a peaceful resolution.
Australia is in a unique position to hold valued relationships with both Israel and the Palestinians and today’s announcement shows the seriousness with which the government takes that role. The previous policy did nothing to advance a vision of two democratic states living side by side, instead placing Australia firmly in the global minority.
There is no way forward without realising the right to self-determination for both peoples, and this realignment reflects that principle, as well as the government’s broader pledge to be a fair supporter of both Israelis and Palestinians.
We look forward to seeing the Australian government continue to re-engage in the region in the pursuit of a better future for both peoples.
In addition to share NIF’s statement, I also wanted to share some further analysis you may be interested to read:
- Our friend Noa Landau’s excellent analysis in Haaretz: “The campaign to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not suit the vision of a leader who ceremoniously declared his support for the two-state solution in the United Nations. One may also guess that Lapid will oppose Australia’s symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state. But why, actually, if Lapid himself supports such a position?”
- An overview of responses from Australian Jewish organisations in The Guardian and Haaretz
- Professor Ben Saul’s op-ed in The Age reflecting on international law
- Tony Walker’s analysis of Australia’s history on the matter in The Conversation
NIF will continue to engage with Australian policymakers around this issue as we seek an approach which centres a future of equality, justice and democracy for all Israelis and Palestinians.
Our statement in response to the Government's announcement yesterday 👇 pic.twitter.com/GtCibJIYKr— New Israel Fund AU (@NIFAustralia) October 19, 2022