Australia drops recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has reversed a previous government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

The center-left Labor Party government Cabinet agreed to again recognize Tel Aviv as the capital and reaffirmed that Jerusalem’s status must be resolved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

Australia remained committed to a two-party solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and “we will not support an approach that undermines this prospect,” Wong said.

Former conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2018, although the Australian embassy remained in Tel Aviv.

The change followed the then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to shift the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Joe Biden has kept the embassy in Jerusalem as the U.S. steps back from its once-intense mediation between the Israelis and Palestinians, who have not held substantive peace talks in more than a decade.

Wong described Morrison’s move as out of step internationally and a “cynical” attempt to win a byelection in a Sydney locale with a large Jewish population.

Morrison’s Liberal Party ran Jewish candidate Dave Sharma who was defeated in the byelection but won the seat in the next general election.

Morrison’s government was elected out of office in May after nine years in power.

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